Wow! Contrary to popular belief, there are still great UFC light heavyweight fighters not named Jon Jones! In the classic "boxer vs. wrestler matchup", Gustafsson and Cormier put on a "Fight of the Year" candidate. Here are my thoughts on each match of the card:
Eye vs. Pena: Alright, maybe Pena isn't quite ready for Rousey yet. Nonetheless, she proved that she is an elite female bantamweight by dominating Eye in Round 1 and Round 3 on the ground. Not to mention that it's hard to fault "The Venezuelan Vixen" for not stopping an opponent who hasn't been finished since 2011. Pena was only in trouble in Round 2, when Eye her down, took her back, and later got an arm-triangle. Even then, she escaped and was back on top when Eye fouled her with a knee to the head (which definitely did NOT look accidental) and got a well-deserved point deduction. While I would like Pena to get one more fight against a top-five bantamweight before she fights Rousey, that's unlikely. The champ has mowed down everybody else, so Pena's the number 1 contender by default and will probably get the chance she requested to prove that she's Rousey's "Evander Holyfield" (unless Holm can pull the upset next month).
Winner: Julianna Pena (unanimous decision)
Benavidez vs. Bagautinov: Benavidez had more diverse striking, using knees and headkicks as well as boxing combos. Nonetheless, I felt Bagautinov won the last two Rounds because he was more aggressive. On top of that, he got two takedowns and a suplex in Round 2. The judges, however, saw it differently, which is why you should always finish your opponent in MMA.
Winner: Joseph Benavidez (unanimous decision)
Jordan vs. Magomedov: Apparently, experience isn't everything. Even though Round 1 was even, the "Leopard" ran circles around "The Savage" for the rest of the fight with boxing 1-2 combos and roundhouse kicks to the head. In the highlight of the fight, Magomedov did a spinning back kick in Round 3 which cut open Jordan's right eye. Other than a takedown in Round 1, Jordan was simply too slow for Magomedov, and, in spite of his strength, was often outmuscled when he did clinch with him.
Winner: Ruslan Magomedov (unanimous decision)
Bader vs. Evans: With two takedowns and by working his jab, Bader easily outpointed Evans and proved he is the one who most deserves a light heavyweight title shot (although he will probably be leapfrogged by Jon "Teflon Bones" Jones). In contrast, Evans just made a couple of half-hearted takedown attempts and threw the occasional punch or kick which didn't do any damage. In other words, the former light heavyweight champ's heart doesn't seem to be in it anymore and if that's the case, he would be better off retiring and becoming a full-time analyst.
Winner: Ryan Bader (unanimous decision)
Cormier vs. Gustafsson: What do you get when you put a boxer and a wrestler in the cage? World War III! I personally would have given Gustafsson the nod, but it was a really close fight! In this standup war, Gustafsson was the technician, working over Cormier's face and body with boxing combos and knee strikes, including one knee to the face which dropped "DC" in Round 3. Only Cormier's heart and grit allowed him to survive. In contrast, DC was more aggressive, hitting Gustafsson with uppercuts in the clinch and proving that he could box as well as wrestle. On top of that, he did his most spectacular slam ever, hoisting the 6-foot-5 Swede into the air, flipping him upside down, and dumping him on his back. Gustafsson, however, proved he could wrestle, too, by becoming the second man to ever take Cormier down and stuffing most of the champion's takedown attempts. To be honest, this "Fight Of The Year" candidate was so awesome that both men were winners.
Winner (and still UFC light heavyweight champion): Daniel Cormier (split decision)