Anthony Garcia

Daniel Cormier can finally feel like a champion again

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USATSI

Daniel Cormier can finally feel like a champion again

Daniel Cormier was awarded the UFC light heavyweight championship Saturday night at UFC 220 after his loss to Jon Jones was overturned when Jones failed a prefight drug test. Cormier said leading up to the fight that he didn’t feel like a champion. He probably feels like one now.

The San Jose-based 205-pounder defeated No. 2-ranked Volkan Oezdemir by secon-round TKO to retain the title.

“I felt as if I was fighting for a vacant title because (Jones) beat me last time,” Cormier (20-1) said in a postfight interview referring to his loss last July.

“I fought for a vacant title and I got the job done so I’m the UFC champion again.”

Cormier, who turns 40 in March, nearly won the fight a round earlier. In the final minute of the first frame, Cormier landed a right hand flush on the challenger’s face. After securing a takedown and taking Oezdemir’s back, Cormier locked in a rear naked choke but was forced to relinquish the hold when the bell rang.

Oezdemir, 28, was given a second chance, but he couldn’t capitalize. Cormier dominated the second round from the beginning. The AKA-product once again took down Oezdemir, transitioned to a crucifix, and landed a barrage of shots until the referee called the fight at the 2:00 mark.

“He was so game. I knew he was a dangerous guy. He hit hard,” Cormier said of Oezdemir (15-2). “But once I was able to get him to the ground, I knew it was my world.”

And for now, the rest of the light heavyweight division is just living in it.

McGregor becomes first ever to hold two belts in different classes

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AP

McGregor becomes first ever to hold two belts in different classes

“Nurmagomedov dominates Johnson to stay undefeated, calls for title shot”

Having fought only once in the last two and a half years, it’s easy to forget how dominant Khabib Nurmagomedov has looked in the Octagon. Saturday night was a violent reminder.

The San Jose-based lightweight submitted Michael Johnson with a kimura at 2:31 of the third round to improve his undefeated record to 24-0 in a lightweight match on the preliminary card of UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Johnson (18-11) started out fast, landing flurries of punches while setting a frenetic pace. The 6th-ranked Blackzillains product rocked Nuemagomedov a few times in the opening minutes of the contest. But the Russian took control of the fight by wrestling Johnson to the mat and dominating him with ground-and-pound.

Nurmagomedov, 28, controlled Johnson, 30, from top position throughout the bout, finally finishing him with a kimura. If the Russian from AKA in the South Bay didn’t say enough with his performance, he said it after the fight, lobbying for a title fight in the 155-pound division.

“I want to fight your guy, he’s a chicken,” Nurmagomedov stated in a postfight interview referring to Conor McGregor. “This is number one easy fight in division…Let’s go with your chicken.”

***

In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez via 2nd round knockout to win the UFC lightweight championship. McGregor becomes the first fighter in the promotion’s history to simultaneously hold two titles in two different weight classes.

McGregor evens it up with Diaz in bloody melee at UFC 202

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McGregor evens it up with Diaz in bloody melee at UFC 202

Very rarely in combat sports does a fight live up to its billing. Considering the theatrics and fighting style of Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor, we should’ve known they were going to be the exception.

McGregor, the UFC featherweight champion, defeated Stockton’s Nate Diaz via majority decision in a welterweight bout in the main event of UFC 202 in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The judges scored the fight 48-47, 48-47, and 47-47. CSNBayArea.com also scored the contest 48-47 for McGregor.

“Surprise, surprise mother-------. The king is back,” McGregor said inside the octagon in a postfight interview, echoing a similar comment Diaz made after he won the first fight between the two in March.

The sequel followed a similar script as the original. McGregor, 28, dominated the first round, landing numerous leg kicks and flooring Diaz, 31, with a left.

The second round was more of the same, as McGregor knocked down Diaz twice more, before Diaz staged a comeback, dominating the final minute of the round.

The third round seemed to be the turning point. McGregor looked gassed, and at times turned his back to retreat from the pressuring Diaz, to which the Stockton native pointed and laughed.

“There’s just another level to him, that toughness and durability that he has crept back in the later rounds,” McGregor (20-3) said. “I’m still happy to come out here with a win. Hell of a fight, he’s a hell of a competitor, he brought out the best in me.”

McGregor was able to weather the storm in the middle stanza, and came out re-energized in the fourth round. Both men were fatigued in the fifth, Diaz flipped McGregor the middle finger when McGregor backed away from his pressure. Diaz was able to secure a takedown in the final seconds and finished the fight in top position, but it wasn’t enough in the judges’ eyes.

“I thought I won that fight,” Diaz (19-11) said after the contest. “They can’t have a mother------ like me win. I’m too real for this sport.”

Diaz alluded to not having a good training camp leading up to the fight, even mentioning an injury, although he was quick to point out that he didn’t want to use that as an excuse.

With the series tied at a victory apiece, and with both men taking home lucrative purses, Diaz received a disclosed $2 million while McGergor took home a UFC-record $3 million, it’s easy to see that both men want to settle the score with a third fight.

“It’s 1-1. Let’s do it again,” McGregor declared, although he added a condition. “You want this trilogy, it’s on my terms. Come down to 155, we’ll do it.”

“I want number three. I gave him number two. We’re going for number three,” Diaz answered. “Good job today Conor, but we’re going for three.”

***

In preliminary bouts, Lodi’s Cody Avila was defeated by Artem Lobov by unanimous decision in a featherweight bout. While Team Alpha Male’s Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt impressively defeated Takeya Mizugaki with a first-round TKO.