UFC 187 has taken it’s losses, but stood firm with a duel-championship headliner, and terrific preliminary action to set it up.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's Lightweight title eliminator against Donald Cerrone also fell through due to a torn meniscus on the Russian's part.
Sean Spencer was also dropped from a pivotal, must-win match-up with fellow veteran Mike Pyle due to injury.
The event has had itself a facelift, too. #3 ranked Daniel Cormier has stepped in to face Anthony "Rumble" Johnson for the vacant Light Heavyweight title. John Makdessi will make a quick return after an April 25th stoppage win over Shane Campbell; doing so against "The Cowboy" Cerrone. Also, Colby Covington bids his undefeated record for a shot at contention against Pyle.
There aren't many UFC events with twin title bouts, as well as an undercard stacked top-to-bottom. Twelve ranked contenders will be in action at UFC 187, many, matched in what are very interesting bouts on paper. Here are a few which particularly catch the eye:
Flyweights: #2 Joseph Benavidez Vs. #5 John Moraga
Joseph Benavidez is looking for his third chance against Demetrius "Mighty Mouse" Johnson. He came close in their first meeting but was dispatched in excess of two minutes when they met for the UFC title in 2013. To get his desired trilogy, he needs to win and do so in a way that leads the public to believe that he has improved since these fights. Extra hard, he must work, if he is to remain at Flyweight and fight for a world title again. His steadfast aggression and vicious striking make him a clear second-best at 125-lbs. Dominant victories over ranked contenders Dustin Ortiz and Tim Elliot reinforce that, but a win over #5 John Moraga would do best to truly solidify that fact, and put him in a position where we will be talking about him challenging the champion, again. Moraga's only defeats come against John Dodson and Johnson, and he recently submitted a top prospect in Justin Scoggins. If he can deaden the confidence of Benavidez and get him on the ground, the result could state Moraga a strong case for a title shot himself.
Welterweights: #8 Dong Hyun Kim Vs. Josh Burkman
"Stun Gun" Dong Hyun Kim is a UFC veteran since 2008. He has never lost two fights in a row, and has eleven career wins in the octagon. He's also never had a title shot. A win over Burkman sends him in the right direction. A loss could mark the beginning of the end as Hyun Kim fell to Tyron Woodley emphatically at UFC Fight Night in Macau. That's not necessary a conclusion to vouch for, but this is one he would like to put in the win column if he ever dreams of getting some well-deserved recognition. Burkman feels a similar sense of needing; the languish of having not won in the octagon since 2007 (9-2 in non-UFC bouts). A loss could spell the end of him, too. Both fighters come forward with aggression, and, with a beacon of both pride and distress, are sure to perform at UFC 187.
Welterweights: Mike Pyle Vs. Colby Covington
Mike Pyle is 39-years-old and coming off of a shattering defeat against Jordan Mein. With that said, he has nearly twice as many professional fights as Colby Covington has rounds, and nothing more would Pyle like than to embarrass the young opponent with his striking techniques. That opponent, Colby Covington, is gifted wrestler and American Top Team protege. If he's in the right place mentally, he'll be ready for the unexpected against Pyle. If not, we have a fight. Maybe, we'll have a newly-ranked contender in Covington if he is to win on this platform. It's a good one for the Fight Pass prelims.
Heavyweights: #3 Travis Browne Vs. #8 Andrei Arlovski
Heavyweights! Yes, they are still around -- somewhere. Andrei Arlovski is a dinosaur by comparison to "Hapa," and could get forced to extinction with a loss. The Belorussian's UFC comeback win against Brenden Schaub was controversial on the scorecards, but he did come back swiftly with a first-round knockout over Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Don't count on that against Browne. Unlike Silva, he isn't past-his-prime and embodies a striking game which could pose danger for a fighter who has fallen to some magnificent strikers in the past. Could Browne be amongst them? Beating the former UFC champion (in 2005) might draw him some attention. A loss, on the other hand, adds more covets to Arlovski's tailed career.
UFC 187 takes place on May 23rd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining, are a pair of UFC title fights. First, Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort finally meet for the Long Island native's Middleweight title. Then, Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier meet for the recently vacated Light Heavyweight title. Don't miss it.