Daniel Cormier made certain it played out as most expected.
The American Kickboxing Academy captain retained the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title and looked dominant in doing so, as he submitted Derrick Lewis with a rear-naked choke in the second round of the UFC 230 headliner on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lewis, who had never before been submitted, checked out 2:14 into Round 2.
Cormier executed multiple takedowns, buried “The Black Beast” with suffocating top control and tore into him with short bursts of punishing ground-and-pound. In the second round, “DC” tripped Lewis to the mat, attached himself to the monstrous 6-foot-3, 264-pound Texan’s back and cinched the choke, cutting of all possible means of escape. The tapout followed soon after.
In the aftermath of UFC 230 “Cormier vs. Lewis,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones-Alexander Gustafsson winner: If Cormier follows through with his plan to retire before he turns 40 in March, he figures to have just one fight remaining in his hall of fame-worthy career. While talk continues to swirl regarding a potential big-money showdown with current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar, a meritocratic approach would drive “DC” in another direction -- toward a rematch with either Jones or Gustafsson, this time at heavyweight. Jones and Gustafsson will renew their rivalry in the UFC 232 main event on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas.
Ronaldo Souza winner vs. Luke Rockhold: Souza took care of business in hostile territory, as he cut down former middleweight champion and New York native Chris Weidman with punches in the third round of their stellar co-main event. Weidman succumbed to blows 2:46 into Round 3. The two contenders spent the first two rounds battering each other in standup exchanges, Weidman delivering power punches in combination and Souza answering with crushing leg kicks and brutal left hooks to the body. In the end, the “All-American” blinked. The oft-injured Rockhold -- the man whom Souza replaced on short notice -- has not fought since being knocked out by Yoel Romero at UFC 221 in February. He defeated “Jacare” under the Strikeforce banner some seven years ago.
Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Henrique Costa: Flawless takedown defense and pinpoint counterstriking carried the undefeated Adesanya to a rout of Derek Brunson in a middleweight showcase. Brunson bit the dust on the receiving end of a volley of knees, punches and kicks 4:51 into the first round. Adesanya denied all eight of the North Carolinian’s takedown attempts, held his own in the clinch and cut loose from the outside. A perfectly timed knee strike in close quarters started Brunson down a path to ruin. Adesanya has secured 12 of his 14 professional victories by knockout or technical knockout. Costa last fought at UFC 226 on July 7, when he disposed of Uriah Hall with second-round punches and improved to 12-0.
Sijara Eubanks vs. Nicco Montano: Eubanks moved to 2-0 in the UFC with a unanimous decision over Roxanne Modafferi in a three-round undercard clash at 125 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Eubanks, who outscored “The Happy Warrior” on the feet and on the ground. Owing to Eubanks’ inability to make weight on a regular basis, the question now becomes whether or not Eubanks stays at flyweight or moves to 135 pounds. An accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, she figures to pose a significant threat in either division.
Shane Burgos vs. Hakeem Dawodu-Kyle Bochniak winner: Team Tiger Schulmann’s Burgos bounced back from his first career defeat in stirring fashion, as he submitted Kurt Holobaugh with an armbar in the first round of their preliminary featherweight pairing. Holobaugh, who had moments earlier floored the Bronx, New York, native with a left hook, conceded defeat 2:11 into Round 1, submitting for the first time in his 24-fight career. The 27-year-old Burgos now owns a 4-1 record inside the Octagon. Dawodu and Bochniak will lock horns at UFC 231 on Dec. 8.