UFC 252 promised to reveal the best heavyweight ever, and when champion Stipe Miocic retained his title after defeating Daniel Cormier on Saturday night at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, it might have done just that.
Miocic, 37, defeated Cormier, 41, via unanimous decision in the final fight of their historic heavyweight trilogy.
But UFC 252 revealed even more sights and sounds than that, including a hugely unexpected upset win by Marlon Vera over the UFC’s star prodigy Sean O’Malley after “Suga” suffered a freak injury to his right leg.
Here are the biggest and best moments from UFC 252.
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Freak Leg Injury Stops the O’Malley ‘Suga Show’
In easily the biggest upset of the night, Vera got the win over O’Malley with a first-round TKO.
Although some believed Vera would be a tough test for O’Malley, most still thought O’Malley would come away with the victory.
But when O’Malley injured his right leg early in the first round, things did not look good for the 25-year-old.
Watch him limp around the cage in the video below after this freak injury.
Then, with just seconds to go in the same round, Vera got O’Malley down on the canvas and unleashed vicious shots that forced the referee to stop the fight.
You can watch O’Malley writhing in pain right after the match was stopped below.
In life nothing is certain, and this match certainly proved that point. A freak leg injury to one of UFC’s brightest up-and-coming stars, one some even dared to tag as “The Next Conor McGregor”, was not something anyone could have predicted for the co-main event.
But Vera stayed focused and seized his opportunity for victory when it was presented.
Miocic, Cormier and Eye Pokes
So much was made about the eye pokes Miocic suffered during the first two fights against Cormier. But on Saturday night, after suffering another eye poke early during their third battle in three years, Miocic returned the favor.
Eye pokes are not legal inside the Octagon but are a part of MMA and somewhat common.
In might not have been done on purpose, but Cormier expressed during his post-fight interview that he was unable to see out of his left eye after that poke.
You can see a picture of the eye poke below.
Cormier’s eye was visibly damaged after the fight. You can see how bad it was from his post-fight interview below.
Massive Heavyweight KO Overshadowed by Brotherly Love After It
The main card of UFC 252 featured two heavyweight bouts, and the first of the two definitely delivered on power as Jairzinho Rozenstruik defeated Junior Dos Santos via TKO.
But as brutal as those punches from Rozenstruik were, they were nothing compared to the brotherly love witnessed as soon as the match was over.
Check out Rozenstruik and Dos Santos side by side inside the cage with a display of sportsmanship everyone can all take to heart.
Fighter Delivered First Upset Victory of the Main Card
Before UFC fans were shocked by the sudden ending of the “Suga Show”, they were treated to another spectacular upset by Daniel Pineda.
Pineda may have cut 27 pounds in just two weeks, but that didn’t stop him from delivering some serious ground and pound in his featherweight match against Herbert Burns.
Pineda defeated Burns via second-round TKO. The elbows he unleashed were described as “brutal” by Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview, and most wouldn’t disagree.
You can watch Pineda celebrate his upset victory over Burns below.
Fighter Yells His Way Into the Hearts of MMA Fans
The epic “war cry” from bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili is not something seen or heard every day.
Or any day really.
Dvalishvili got the decision win over John Dodson with 30-27 on the scorecards all three ways, but you can watch the fighter unleash his warrior yell at the start of the match below.
Heck, even his opponent was inspired by it.
And for good measure, Dvalishvili ended the match with even more yells.
Who is he yelling at exactly? Perhaps he’s yelling his way into the hearts of MMA fans the world over.
Our verdict is that it’s working.
A ‘Beautiful’ Submission
Finally, during the prelims for UFC 252, Virna Jandiroba took the win over Felice Herrig via a “beautiful” armbar submission. And that’s per UFC commentator Rogan, who has probably seen thousands of them by now.
“My goodness that’s beautiful,” said Rogan. “That’s beautiful to watch.”
This submission was so “spectacular” it might have you hiding your own arm away just in case Jandiroba suddenly appears behind you.
You can watch Jandiroba’s masterpiece below.
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