It was a tale of two very different outcomes for former amateur wrestlers, as Daniel Cormier remained heavyweight champ, while Chris Weidman was the victim of a third-round KO at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden in New York City Saturday night.
Cormier, a two-time Olympian and NCAA All-American for Oklahoma State, submitted Derrick Lewis via a rear naked choke at 2:14 of the second round of their main event, the first UFC heavyweight title bout in the storied Manhattan arena that has seen more than its fair share of heavyweight boxing championship bouts as well as the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
"Daniel Cormier solidified his claim as the best heavyweight in mixed martial arts and one of the best fighters to ever grace the Octagon," according to leading MMA website Sherdog.com's reporting of the top-of-the-card event at UFC 230.
"'DC' made it look almost too easy when he dominated challenger Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 230 Saturday night to retain his UFC heavyweight title. Cormier (22-1) scored takedowns whenever he wanted, never took any clean punches and vanquished 'The Black Beast' in the second via rear-naked choke."
ESPN.com reported, "Lewis threw several haymakers in the second round with bad intentions, but Cormier slipped the shots and calmly went about taking him back to the floor. The finish came after Lewis tried to turtle up and stand. Cormier transitioned to his back and sank in the choke.
"It's history, baby," said Cormier after the win, who improved his heavyweight record to 15-0 (4-0 in UFC). "History in the making -- Daniel Cormier, one of the best of all time!"
The 2008 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestler continued, "I think a lot of people have to understand, I've been doing this for nine years. I've fought at the championship level for eight of them. There are no surprises with me. If you have a puncher's chance, that's not enough. You have to be one of the best in the world to even compete."
As ESPN.com pointed out, Cormier's successful title defense holds open the door for a planned matchup against Brock Lesnar -- current WWE champ who was a 2000 NCAA Division I heavyweight champ for University of Minnesota --- sometime in early 2019.
"Brock Lesnar, when you come, bring that new WWE title," Cormier said. "I feel like being a WWE champion, too. Let's go, Brock. Bring that belt with you if you come to my house."
In co-main event, Weidman victim of "vicious" knockout
Long Island native Chris Weidman, an All-American wrestler at Nassau Community College before earning NCAA All-American honors at Hofstra University who later became a UFC middleweight (185-pound champ), had a rough time of it at Madison Square Garden Saturday against late substitute opponent Rolando Souza.
"'Jacare' (Souza) cleans Weidman's clock," according to a headline at Sherdog.com.
"The co-main event was thrilling as it was dramatic as Souza and Weidman slugged it out for nearly three rounds, but only one had to have his hand raised," Sherdog.com continued. "The 'All-American' rocked the Brazilian numerous times in the battle with clean punches to the head, but Weidman was never able to put his foe away. With blood pouring from his nose, 'Jacare' rallied in the third and rocked Weidman with a right to the head during a heated exchange.
"Souza (26-6) followed that up with a wicked left hook to the body and then a right to the temple, dropping Weidman flat on his back. Souza wanted referee Dan Miragliotta to stop it right then and there and raised his hands in a pleading motion, but the Brazilian was forced to land a handful of follow-up punches before the veteran third man finally intervened. The end came at 2:46 of the third."
For Weidman, if was his fourth loss in five bouts. The former collegiate mat star at Long Island schools is now 14-4 in a pro career going back nearly a decade.