Published 12:15 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

By David Estrada

The News MMA correspondent

UFC 192 event held in Houston’s Toyota Center on Oct. 3 had a high bar set for it. The last event held there, UFC 166, was considered the most thrilling event of 2013.

This past weekend’s event took a hit before it even occurred, started off strong, showed the spirit of Southeast Texans during a ho-hum middle of the card, and was saved by the main event.
Days before the event, co-main event fighter Johny Hendricks was forced to withdraw from his his bout with Tyron Woodley. Akin to the NFL’s concussion protocol with safety first, Hendricks experienced medical issues cutting weight, so his fight was scrapped the chagrin of fans who follow the Texan.
The preliminary bouts stepped up to fill the void. Women’s strawweight fighter Rose Namajunas rose to new heights in her bout against Angela Hill. Known for her Taekwondo standup fighting style, she showed off her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills with a standing rear-naked choke on Hill.
Following Namajunas in the prelims were Albert Tumenov and Adriano Martins, who both won Performance of the Night bonuses with first round knockouts of their opponents.
There was a Rocky IV element to the event. Three bouts pitted an American versus a Russian which was especially interesting during today’s geopolitical climate. The crowded chanted, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” during each of the bouts. The Russians took the fights 2-1 but it was nice to see scores settled in the realm of sport rather than other means.
The main card was somewhat lackluster in action. The loudest of the fan noise at that point came from fans starting the wave. The wave’s noise was like an “in-your-face we’re going to make our own fun” reaction to the lack of action. Looking up, the fans were mostly smiling which showed the fun-loving spirit of Southeast Texans.

Then a real reason for cheering came. The main event featuring UFC Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier versus Swedish challenger Alexander Gustafsson ended up being an absolute war. The size and style contrast between the 5-foot-11 former Olympic wrestler Cormier against the 6-5 boxer/shootfighter Gustafsson led to arguably the most exciting bout of 2015.
In the first round, Cormier used his wresting skills to pickup and slam Gustafsson to the canvas with one of the loudest thuds one’s heard on the Octagon. As the fight ensued Gus used his range. With seconds to go in the third round he knocked down Cormier, who was saved by the barely hearable horn due to the eruption of the crowd.
Cormier then showed his championship heart and fought back in the last two rounds getting inside the longer Gustafsson landing strikes. The Swede went in to retreat mode to avoid the onslaught. In the end Cormier retained his title with a split decision victory.
UFC 192 displayed Texas MMA fans’ love affair with the UFC, even through adversity, and they were awarded with a gem to cap off the night.
David Estrada Jr.

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