Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier entered the UFC 220 co-main event in Boston on Saturday feeling like he was fighting for a vacant title. He was defeated by his biggest rival, Jon Jones, in his last outing but the result was later ruled a No Contest after Jones tested positive to banned substances.
Jones is the only man to ever beat Cormier inside the cage and that remained true at TD Garden on Saturday when Cormier faced No. 2 ranked Volkan Oezdemir by technical knockout. Ten years Cormier’s younger, Oezdemir is a fast starter with devastating knockout power. He entered the title bout on a five-fight winning streak including back-to-back first-round finishes.
Oezdemir has a reputation for being a fast starter and that was no different against Cormier. He took the fight to the champion in the early going. He unloaded power shots looking for an early finish but Cormier stayed composed. Midway through the opening frame the pace slowed and Cormier began landing. He stunned Oezdemir with a left hand. After catching a kick, Cormier put the Swede on his back with a single-leg takedown.
On the ground, Cormier proved to be on another level. Oezdemir rolled over, giving up his back. Cormier quickly applied a rear-naked choke that was in deep. The bell sounded signalling the end of the round saving Oezdemir. Two minutes into the second frame Cormier would get his finish.
Cormier secured a takedown early in the second round and mounted Oezdemir. He moved to side control and put Oezdemir in the crucifix position. He hammered away with right hands. With Oezdemir unable to free himself from the position or defend himself, the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
“I’ve been though a lot. I go through a lot of stuff man. It’s because of my greatest rival, but it feels good to get back in here and get a victory,” said Cormier after the win.
“I’ve lost twice to Jon Jones and I said, as I came into this fight I said, I felt as if I was fighting for a vacant title again because he beat me last time. I fought for a vacant title and I got the job done so I’m a UFC champion again,” he added.