A spectacular UFC pay-per-view card is a like fine wine that must be savored, and tonight’s installment – UFC 178 – is the finest of the fine. Rare is the lineup that makes for some serious must-see violence, but tonight we have the return of Cat Zingano and Dominick Cruz, the long-awaited Octagon appearance of Bellator superstar Eddie Alvarez, Irish loudmouth Conor McGregor against Dustin Poirier, and a main event featuring champ Demetrious Johnson defending his belt against Chris Cariaso. So many thrilling fighters, so many thrilling fights!
Stay tuned for some live results and play-by-play, and don’t forget to keep hitting “refresh”.
Prelim bouts – UFC Fight Pass
-Manny Gamburyan vs. Cody Gibson
Round 1: He managed to earn second place when he entered a season of TUF at lightweight, and for a while saw some success at featherweight, but tonight Armenian fireplug Gamburyan wanted to try his hand at bantamweight. Unfortunately for him, Gibson – who was taller with a much greater reach – didn’t want to make it easy for him. For the vast majority of the first round, Gibson picked away at Gamburyan with a hellacious right hand, and nailed him so hard at one point that the Armenian was forced to shoot for a takedown. Gibson wasn’t down long, and the bell sounded with the American winging bolos.
Round 2: Gamburyan takes a huge kick square to the junk and requires a few minutes to recover (and mourn the children he now won’t be having). When they resume, Gibson drops him with a right, and they flurry furiously against the cage, Gamburyan even landing an uppercut. They scramble, and eventually the two fighters are back up, swinging hard. Miraculously, Gamburyan is able to get his opponent down and control him a bit, and in the final 10 seconds of the round he latches onto Gibson’s neck, squeezes with everything he’s got, and earns a tap out. Fantastic effort by the TUF vet.
Result: Manny Gamburyan def. Cody Gibson via Submission (Guillotine) at 4:56, R2
-Kevin Lee vs. John Tuck
Round 1: These guys waste no time banging each other up via looping crosses and kicks to the head and body, with Lee punctuating things with a sweet back-suplex a minute and a half in. Then Tuck eats a big knee to the family jewels, and like with the bout preceding, the action grinds to a halt for a while. When they resume, Lee drives them to the fence and hunts for a takedown that never comes.
Round 2: The round opens with Tuck kicking Lee in the nuts, and then about a minute later he does it again, forcing the ref to deduct a point. Back against the cage and Lee does a great job tenderizing his foe with knees and punches to the body, and he scores with a nice high-amplitude takedown midway through the round. In response to Lee’s ground-and-pound efforts, Tuck fires off a close triangle choke and a close armbar. The round ends with kicks and punches flowing freely.
Round 3: Lee knocks out Tuck’s mouthpiece, and when Tuck seems to try to catch it – and is therefore distracted – Lee pours it on, opening up a cut on the bridge of the Guam native’s nose and taking him down. For the rest of the time, Lee pounds him while shrugging off half-assed sub attempts, and when time runs out the winner via decision is no mystery.
Result: Kevin Lee def. John Tuck via Unanimous Decision
Prelim bout results – FOX Sports 1
-Brian Ebersole vs. John Howard
Round 1: In the battle between the crafty veteran and the hard-hitting veteran, it was all about whose will could be imposed first. In the opening round, Ebersole – the crafty one – found success by taking Howard down and tying him in knots. For his part, Howard did well dodging any potential finishes, but by the end of the frame, the big question mark hanging over him was what, if anything, he’d have to beat his opponent back with.
Round 2: The answer to that question came early, as Howard began throwing punches in bunches and kicks to Ebersole’s thighs that wobbled him. Then the Massachusetts native switched gears and took him down, and for almost the duration, Howard was on Ebersole’s back, forcing him to defend against chokes.
Round 3: Whatever Howard had in the gas tank was pretty much gone by the final round, permitting only brief flurries while Ebersole picked at him from a distance. The hard leg-kicks were still there, but they were fewer and far between, and meant little without the punches to follow up. Time ran out with Ebersole scoring ever so slightly more on the feet.
Result: Brian Ebersole def. John Howard via Split Decision
-Patrick Cote vs. Stephen Thompson
Round 1: Going in to this bout, we knew Thompson had a flashy, karate-based striking style, while Cote wielded a more traditional Muay Thai skill set. What that translated to was evident in the opening round: Thompson weaving in and out and back and forth, and occasionally flicking out an odd-angled kick or punch, and Cote eating a few to land one. Twice Cote went for takedowns that were stuffed, so it seemed that this one was going to be contested solely on the feet.
Round 2: Cote continued plodding forward, trying to time when to land his punches and kicks without much luck. On the other hand, Thompson was chipping away, and moving out of range with each strike landed – so much so that late in the round Cote rushed in in frustration and was dropped with a left hook. He recovered, but Thompson was clearly winning on the scorecards.
Round 3: Thompson was relentless in his methodical attack, and it was paying off, with him dropping Cote once more. He wisely beckoned his opponent to stand, and with jelly legs, Cote finished out the round trying not to let himself get KO’d by the technically superior Thompson.
Result: Stephen Thompson def. Patrick Cote via Unanimous Decision.
-James Krause vs. Jorge Masvidal
Round 1: The feeling out period for these guys lasts about four seconds, as they immediately engage in a diverse striking battle that incorporates quick kicks, well-aimed punches and tons of movement. The veteran Masvidal seems to edge ahead early, pressuring his opponent and landing punch-and-knee combos effectively.
Round 2: Cognizant of the ass-beating he’s taking on the feet, Krause tries his hand at bringing things to the ground – and he does, although he’s soon swept and reversed. Masvidal peppers him with more shots, and when they return to the feet, Krause seemingly gains the upper hand with some scrambling. But Masvidal ain’t having none of that, and when he’s not making his foe eat leather on the feet, he’s making him eat it on the mat. Close to the end of the round Masvidal nails him with a sweet right hand and Krause drops like a sack of potatoes, and the frame ends with Masvidal on top.
Round 3: Bad things that happened to Krause in this round: He gets banged up over and over again, unable to cope with Masvidal’s more accurate striking; two takedowns that see him on his back; he has to fight Jorge Masvidal. Good things that happened: He lands two solid punches. End result: He loses a decision.
Result: Jorge Masvidal def. James Krause via Unanimous Decision
-Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Round 1: The former champ sprints to the cage to Cypress Hill music, dances around the cage, and when the referee says “Go!”, Cruz is all over Mizugaki like a swarm of bees. From double-leg takedown to a relentless storm of punches against the fence as Mizugaki struggles to rise while retaining his consciousness, it was all about the comeback of the bantamweight champ and how badass he was and still is.
Result: Dominick Cruz def. Takeya Mizugaki via TKO (Punches) at 1:01, R1
Main card bout results – pay-per-view
-Amanda Nunes vs. Cat Zingano
Round 1: Nunes comes out and blasts Zingano with a low-kick, then tosses her to the canvas. Zingano maintains her composure, though, and very nearly snags the armbar from her guard. The Brazilian escapes, and proceeds to drop bombs in the form of right hands and elbows. Shot after shot lands, threatening to bring an abrupt end to the bout, but with a minute and a half left in the round Nunes goes for a leg submission and Zingano winds up on top. Zingano’s ground and pound pales in comparison to her opponent’s, however, when they get back to their feet the American lands a spectacular throw, and the round ends with Zingano on top.
Round 2: Zingano meets Nunes head on and pegs her with an elbow to the face, then tosses her down again with her superior wrestling. From above, she mixes attempts at passing guard with short punches, and that goes on for a few minutes until Nunes goes for a leglock and Zingano counters with a toehold attempt. The round ends with the American in the Brazilian’s guard.
Round 3: Zingano just will not be denied. It takes her just a few seconds to secure control of Nunes’ head, and when she does another spectacular throw that lands her nearly in mount, she drops enough bombs to warrant the referee stoppage. She wins, and her victory earns her a shot at champ Ronda Rousey.
Result: Cat Zingano def. Amanda Nunes via TKO (Punches) at 1:21, R3
-Tim Kennedy vs. Yoel Romero
Round 1: Sporting Olympic credentials in wrestling and the kind of power that makes most men crumble, Romero comes out and immediately bloodies Kennedy with a sneaky left, and continues the onslaught with a variety of single punches and kicks that forces Kennedy to move backwards. At one point the American tries for a takedown, but Romero will have none of it, and he even takes Kennedy down briefly himself.
Round 2: Romero slows down just a little bit, which enables Kennedy to score ever so slightly with dirty boxing and see some success in the scrambles. Still, he’s bloodied, and Romero is enough of a beast to muscle him against the cage and grind him. The round ends in dramatic fashion though, with Kennedy landing a series of punches that has Romero wobbling and almost falling.
Round 3: He’s exhausted, but Romero stumbles out and clocks Kennedy with a giant knuckle sandwich. Kennedy stumbles and Romero turns up the fire, dodging the American’s attempts to get things to the ground and blasting him repeatedly until Kennedy goes fetal and referee John McCarthy steps in.
Result: Yoel Romero def. Tim Kennedy at TKO (Punches) at :58, R3
-Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
Round 1: The Irishman starts out by throwing hook-kicks and staking a claim in the center of the Octagon. Poirier keeps his wits about him and tries to counter with some solid kickboxing, but he makes a fatal mistake by staying at a distance – which is McGregor’s ideal range – and eventually McGregor clips him, dropping him with a left and unloading with punches as Poirier tumbles to the canvas. Referee Herb Dean steps in and waves the bout off when it’s clear the American isn’t getting up.
Result: Conor McGregor def. Dustin Poirier via TKO (Punches) at 1:46, R1
-Eddie Alvarez vs. Donald Cerrone
Round 1: At first it appears as if Cerrone’s height and reach advantage, plus experience within the Octagon, are going to cause problems for the former Bellator champ. Then Alvarez grabs a hold of him and feeds him about 50 short punches that puts Cowboy – and the world – on notice that Alvarez is one dangerous dude. The round ends with the two banging it out.
Round 2: Cowboy pours it on, and with kicks to his foe’s lead leg, manages to damage Alvarez and change the momentum of the bout. Alvarez is suddenly taking the worst of it, and though he fires off a few hard punches that tag Cerrone in the grill, the round belongs to Cowboy.
Round 3: Alvarez scores with a punch that knocks Cerrone’s head back, but the small victory is short-lived, as the UFC vet hammers his leg over and over again until eventually Alvarez drops. Securing top position in his opponent’s half-guard, Cerrone rides of the round dropping short punches and forearms.
Result: Donald Cerrone def. Eddie Alvarez via Unanimous Decision
-Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso
Round 1: Champ Johnson wields a hefty speed advantage, and for the first minute and a half he uses it to land strikes while flitting in and out of range. Then “Mighty Mouse” changes tactics and nails a takedown, working from top position for a bit until Cariaso wall-walks back up. Before the bell signalling the end of the round sounds, Cariaso scores with a couple knees, but Johnson batters him, and wobbles him with a knee of his own in the waning seconds.
Round 2: The challenger slips and Johnson capitalizes, securing side-control and beating him up with elbows and forearms and threatening with a crucifix. Cariaso struggles, but when Johnson switches to a kimura, Cariaso is soon tapping. Mighty Mouse keeps his belt.
Result: Demetrious Johnson def. Chris Cariaso via Submission (Kimura) at 2:29, R2