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Jose Aldo, Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw Shine at UFC 200

Daniel Cormier defeated a living legend, Jose Aldo recaptured his mojo, and Cain Velasquez dazzled with a dizzying kick at UFC 200. And this all happened before Brock Lesnar’s triumphant return and Amanda Nunes’ picture-perfect performance in the featured bouts.

Daniel Cormier scores a takedown early in the first round against Anderson Silva that results in elbows, forearms, and fists pounding on the Brazilian’s face. Spider remains in Cormier’s web for the rest of the round but survives through crafty defense that frustrates the light-heavyweight champ’s ambitions of a stoppage.

Silva opens the second stanza with kicks but Cormier smothers the moment of excitement by smothering the former middleweight champion on the mat. John McCarthy stands up the fighters with 1:35 left to the delight of the sold-out T-Mobile Arena crowd.

Silva unleashes unorthodox strikes answered by a solid right from Cormier to start the third. But 30 or so seconds into the final frame, they find themselves in a familiar position. Cormier lay-and-prays more than ground-and-pounds for the next two-and-a-half minutes. The crowd chants “Stand them up!” and McCarthy eventually obliges. Silva hurts Cormier with a kick and then a knee in the last 30 seconds but Cormier wisely presses him against the cage to run out the clock.

Silva’s corner hoists their fighter as if to say going the distance on two days’ notice and less than two months from surgery ranks as a victory of sorts. The crowd agrees. But the judges see it unanimously and uniformly 30-26 for Cormier, who spent nearly four-fifths of the fight atop the fan favorite Silva.

Frankie Edgar presses the inaction in the first round of his featherweight bout with Jose Aldo, landing leg kicks and the occasional combination. But a somnambulant Aldo suddenly catches Edgar with a hard right and a knee late to put an exclamation point on an otherwise forgettable round.

Both men land solid punches in the second stanza, with the Brazilian stuffing multiple takedown attempts. Frankie pressing the action and landing more in the round. In the third, Edgar enjoys success grinding against the fence. Blood flows from the New Jersey fighter’s nose and near his right eye. Aldo lands a big right answered by an Edgar right with less than two minutes left. Frankie tags him to open the last minute.

Jose Aldo

Aldo explodes with combinations starting at the two-minute mark after three minutes of Edgar pressuring much but scoring little in the fourth. The former featherweight champ catches the former lightweight champion midair with a punch that briefly sends him down. Aldo connects with a left in the opening minute of the fifth. Aldo snaps Edgar’s head back with a punch halfway through the round. The Answer lacks answers. Edgar ends the fight an o-fer in takedown attempts.

Jose Aldo wins the interim featherweight title on scores of 49-46, 49-46, and 48-47.

Travis Browne landed a solid straight right. But Cain Velasquez propelled the action for the rest of the way in the opening bout of the UFC 200 main card. The former heavyweight champion applied pressure against the fence and shocked Browne with a wheel kick spinning to his left with his right foot smacking Hapa’s head. Velazquez swarmed a hurt Browne with punches that sent the towering heavyweight 79 inches toward sea level. After the pair rise, Velasquez flattens Browne on his stomach and rains down punches that finish the fight with three seconds remaining in the round.

“Yeah, it’s good to get a win, but I always want to be better,” Velasquez explained after his victory. “It’s about improving on those little things as a fighter. That’s just the way I am. I want the winner of Stipe [Miocic] and [Alistair] Overeem. I’ve always said I want to fight the best guys out there.”

T.J. Dillashaw used footwork and feints to pick apart Raphael Assuncao in a feature fight on the preliminary portion of UFC 200.

The former champ unleashed a straight right on the Brazilian less than a minute into the second and knocked him down with the same right with less than a minute left in the round. A T.J. takedown, after each man stuffed the attempts of the other, at the end of the third likely made the difference in a competitive last five minutes.

The judges submitted identical scorecards of 30-27, allowing Dillashaw to avenge an earlier decision loss to Assuncao.

T.J. Dillashaw

“I’m the champion in the bantamweight division,” Dillashaw declared after the fight. “That’s my belt. Cruz knows I won that fight, I want my belt back. I’m coming for that title. He better not be trying out for Dancing with the Stars again because I’m coming for you, Dominick. A title fight is next—nothing but a title fight.”

Kelvin Gastelum displayed impressive combinations in outclassing Johny Hendricks in the first round of their welterweight bout. Hendricks responded in the second by landing lefts and a takedown. In the rubber round of the entertaining bout, the former Ultimate Fighter victor consistently beat Hendricks to the punch, pressuring the Texan and showing superior standup. But the former champ landed a brief takedown and ended the fight exchanging haymakers with Gastelum. The scorecards read 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 for Gastelum.

Super Sage Northcutt weathered deep and dangerous kimura and armbar attempts by Enrique Martin to secure unanimous 29-28 judgments. A merciless  Jim Miller, a winner at UFC 100, won again at UFC 200 by stopping Takanori Gomi in the first round. A Joe Lauzon onslaught rendered Diego Sanchez helpless less than 90 seconds into the lightweight scrap among the UFC’s scrappiest fighters.

Joe Lauzon

Juliana Pena won a unanimous decision over Cat Zingano to catapult her into the crowded conversation for title contenders at 135.

“Sometimes I just let my opponents gas themselves out and do their thing,” Pena reflected after the win. “Then, I’ll come out in the second and the third where I know I’m my strongest and my cardio is the best. I’m just hitting my prime, I’m 26-years-old and I’m ready for more. Try me right now, bring it on, the world is mine. Everybody that’s been put in front of me I ‘ve beaten so I don’t see anything else but the title.”

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