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UFC’s first trip to Buffalo in over 20 years a successful showing

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Saturday night, the UFC made its return to Buffalo for the first time since 1995. 

UFC 210 took place at the KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo. The event drew a crowd of 17,110 and a gate of $2 million, the largest in the history of the KeyBank Center, according to UFC president Dana White.

The sellout crowd brought an electricity into the building and came alive in the third fight of the night when former UB wrestler Desmond Green made his UFC debut. 

In the Main Event, Daniel Cormier (19-1) successfully defended his Light Heavyweight title against Anthony Johnson (22-6) after securing the victory with a rear naked choke in the second round. The two engaged in a rematch after their first fight in April 2015 at UFC 187, where Cormier came out on top.

The rematch started with Johnson looking for the early knockout, but it quickly turned into a wrestling match after the opening moments. Cormier was able to weather Johnson’s wrestling in the first round, eventually taking Johnson down to the cage floor and picking up the win in the second round. 

Johnson, who many thought would use his intense striking against Cormier, took a more wrestling-based approach to the fight.

“I couldn’t believe he was going to force the wrestling. I was OK giving away the first round because I knew eventually it’d go my way. At the end of the day, he’s a wrestler,” Cormier said in the post-fight interview.

After the fight, Johnson announced his retirement from the sport, citing personal reasons and wanting to try something new.

“I love you all, this is my last fight,” Johnson said in a short speech after the fight. “I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell Dana White, my family and my friends knew, but I didn’t want any distractions. I enjoyed the UFC. Thank you, I will never, ever forget you and what a better place to end my career than Buffalo, New York.”

The co-Main Event between Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) and Chris Weidman (13-3) ended in controversy after Mousasi threw what looked like an illegal knee in the second round, which ended the fight as a TKO win for Mousasi. 

“It’s not the way I wanted to win and I wanted to continue to fight,” Mousasi said. “If [Weidman] wants a rematch, he can have his rematch.”

On the rest of the main card, Cynthia Calvillo (5-0) defeated Pearl Gonzalez (6-2) by rear naked choke in the third round. Thiago Alves (22-11) defeated Patrick Cote (23-11) by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in what will be Cote’s last match – he announced his retirement after. 

Finally, Charles Oliveira (22-7) defeated Will Brooks (18-3) with a spectacular standing rear naked choke in the first round. The win earned Oliveira a performance of the night bonus of $50,000 and gave him his ninth submission in the UFC.

In the highlight of the undercard, former UB wrestler and Rochester native Desmond Green (20-5) defeated the undefeated prospect Josh Emett (11-1) by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) in his UFC debut. Green had the upper hand for nearly the entire fight, controlling Emett both on the ground and standing up. 

“Before the fight, win, lose or draw, I knew I had already won. This is so great. I’ve had to jump through so many obstacles to get here. I moved to two different countries, three different states, six different towns just to chase this one dream,” Green said in a post fight interview.

Green was a major hit with the hometown crowd and appears to have a bright future in UFC.

On the rest of the undercard, Myles Jury (16-2) made quick work of Mike De La Torre (14-7), defeating him in the first round by TKO. Kamaru Usman (10-1) extended his current UFC win streak to five with his one-sided unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) over Sean Strickland (18-2).

Shane Burgos (9-0) defeated Charles Rosa (11-3) in a thrilling contest, coming out on top in the third round with a TKO. The fight earned fight of the night honors, which provided both fighters with a bonus of $50,000. It also marks Burgos’ second win in the company.

Patrick Cummins (9-4) defeated Jan Blachowicz (19-7) in a come-from-behind majority decision win (29-28, 29-28, 28-28). Cummins was rocked early and looked to have been finished in the first round. Cummins was able to regroup and used his wrestling to take control of the next two rounds. 

Gregor Gillespie (9-0) had an outstanding showing, defeating Andrew Holbrook (12-2) in 21 seconds via KO, earning him a performance of the night bonus of $50,000. Katlyn Chookagian (9-1) defeated Irene Aldana (7-4) in a back-and-forth fight via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Magomed Bibulatov (14-0) defeated Jenel Lausa (7-3) by unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26) in his UFC debut.

The UFC has no plans to return to Buffalo as of yet, but after the event, UFC president Dana White said he wants to return after the success of Saturday night. 

Thomas Zafonte is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com 


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