MMA

Daniel Cormier is new light heavyweight champ, Chris Weidman retains in UFC 187

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Daniel Cormier imposed his will on fellow contender Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson before grinding out a submission victory as he clinched the vacant UFC light heavyweight champion in the main event of UFC 187 on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the co-main event of the night, UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman overcame some early adversity to knock challenger Vitor Belfort out in the first round to retain his own title in impressive fashion.

Cormier joined Weidman among the ranks of UFC champions, becoming the first light heavyweight other than former champion Jon Jones to hold the belt since 2011.

Jones, who was initially scheduled to face No. 1 contender Johnson on the card, was stripped of his title and suspended last April after the fighter turned himself over to police custody for alleged involvement in a hit-and-run accident.

Cormier, who had already previously lost to Jones, made the most of his second shot at the 205-lb. division title, wearing Johnson down with his wrestling before finishing the fight in the third round.

Johnson was explosive in the standup early, connecting on a big right hand that hurt Cormier.

But the two-time Olympian, Cormier, managed to survive the danger, recovering with a takedown and some dirty boxing, although Johnson looked to have had the better of the round.

Johnson came out in the second round with guns blazing, throwing punches and kicks but was eventually neutralized by Cormier, who picked up his opponent and carried him around before finishing with a slam. Cormier tried to lock in a kimura before utilizing his ground and pound and busting Johnson open with some elbows.

Johnson, who looked worn down at the end of Round 2, showed some good early signs, even taking Cormier down in the third. But the latter reclaimed controlled, putting his weight on top of Johnson at the cage and working for a rear-naked choke that Johnson tapped out to.

Weidman, too, needed to weather an early flurry as Belfort got the better of an early exchange, teeing off with some big uppercuts and bloodying the champion.

But the middleweight champ got a takedown, worked for better position and finished off the challenger with some brutal ground and pound to finish things off in the very first round.

Weidman, who beat Anderson Silva to win the belt in 2013, made it a third successful defense of the title after earlier wins over Silva and Lyoto Machida.

In the main card, Donald Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski both came away with knockout wins over opponents John Makdessi and Tranvis Browne, respectively while Joseph Benavidez won a unanimous decision over John Moraga.

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