Bellator 172 suffered a huge blow just hours before showtime, when Matt Mitrione was forced to withdraw from the highly-anticipated main event with Fedor Emelianenko due to illness (kidney stones).
Bellator MMA president Scott Coker explored several last-minute options to replace Mitrione - including Chael Sonnen - but ultimately, the fight was canceled, with hopes of rescheduling at a later date.
As a result, San Jose native Josh “The Punk” Thomson was promoted to headliner status, in a battle against fellow lightweight contender Patricky "Pitbull" Freire. Much to the dismay of his home crowd at SAP Center, Thomson was knocked out in round 2 by a vicious uppercut.
Fresno's Josh Koscheck also lost via uppercut in his promotional debut against Mauricio Alonso. Both fighters came out swinging early, but Alonso's right haymaker late in round 1 proved to be the deciding shot, dropping Koscheck to the canvas. The former UFC welterweight contender has now lost six straight bouts.
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.
Oakland's own Andre "Son of God" Ward is calling it a career at 32-0. And plenty of noteable teams and icons showed the champ respect on Thursday...