LAS VEGAS -- Daniel Cormier is the UFC light heavyweight champion.
Nor is this belt an interim championship. Interim titles are for injuries, to give guys like Dominick Cruz some slack when they're working in good faith to get back into ring shape but suffer setbacks along the way.
They're not placeholders for guys who allegedly injure pregnant women in hit-and-run accidents, then return to the scene to grab some cash, especially when this is the latest in a string of incidents.
Jon Jones is facing felony charges. In a best-case scenario, he could be back relatively soon. But if he has the bad luck of facing a prosecutor who wants to make his name with a high-profile case, he could be out a whole lot longer.
"I didn't disqualify myself from competition, Jon did," Cormier said. "Jon is the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world. We all know that. But he disqualified himself from this competition, so I am the champion. I'm very proud of what I accomplished tonight."
Cormier wasn't one of the enablers who let Jones get in trouble over and over again without consequence, until the problem became so big the UFC had to strip him of the title to get his attention. DC simply took advantage of an opportunity when it was presented, and in the process, put on quite an impressive show against Anthony Johnson.
Lost in all the hoopla of an eventful Vegas night is the fact Cormier took "Rumble's" best shot, then manhandled one of the sport's hottest fighters. Cormier went Cain Velasquez on Johnson, with his relentless, grinding pressure. It was almost enough to make you forget that Johnson had crushed pretty much everyone in his path over the past three years.
Of course, Cormier has also mastered the art of selling fights like few others. Somehow, from the Patrick Cummins storyline to the first Jones fight to last night, when he got into it with Ryan Bader, Cormier's buildup always manages a bit of a pro wrestling feel.
So DC is smart enough to know that when he and Jones eventually rematch, all of the people trying to discredit his UFC 187 performance via semantic nitpicking are going to shell out good money to see it.
"It's not about just being a champion inside the ring," Cormier said. "You have to be a champion at all facets of life. It's unfortunate. I believe that he'll get his stuff together, and him and I will fight again."
On that last point, there's little dispute.
UFC 187 quotes
"It's a no-brainer for me. I always still want to beat up Demetrious Johnson and knock him out. There's nothing different for me. I thought I beat him the first time me and him faced each other." -- John Dodson, declaring himself the No. 1 contender at flyweight.
"I just wanted an easy paycheck. I asked to fight you multiple times, b---- I asked to fight you. They said Daniel, what do you want, I said I want the easiest fight in the division, Ryan Bader." -- Cormier, as Bader rushed the podium during the post-fight press conference.
"My goal is still to be champion one day. I was on a nine-fight win-streak and Daniel just defeated me. But I promise I'll be back." -- Johnson, following his loss to Cormier.
"'Cowboy' looked insanely good. He kept his composure, put together combinations to the legs and head. He looked unbelievable. I will give you this, yes, Cowboy Cerrone is next in line for a title shot." -- UFC president Dana White, to ESPN.com.
Stock up: Chris Weidman. On any other night, the undefeated UFC middleweight champion would have been the story. But as is, Weidman should never have to play second fiddle on a fight card again. Weidman's path to stardom hasn't been the fast-track type, since he doesn't ooze charisma the way someone like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey does. Instead, Weidman's the sort of slow-building, low-key star who earns his fan base one match at a time. This was apparent Saturday night, with the superstar reaction he got from the crowd at the MGM Grand from his entrance, to his weathering of Belfort's early storm, to his spectacular finish. With wins over Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, and Belfort, Weidman is right on the cusp of becoming an A-list PPV draw all on his own.
Stock Up: Andrei Arlovski. I have a confession to make: I was one of those who wanted to see the former UFC heavyweight champion retire. I was cageside when he walked right into Tim Sylvia's knockout punch. I was ringside when he soared right into Fedor Emilianenko's right hand. I was cageside when Sergei Kharitonov knocked him senseless, and by that point, I had decided I never wanted to see Arlovski fight again. Credit Greg Jackson for what may be his greatest reclamation job yet, and credit Arlovski for having the open mind needed to re-learn his way back to the top. Arlovski's victory over Travis Browne is now the clubhouse leader for round of the year. It demonstrated that we need to stop harping on Arlovski's chin. And it showed, incredibly, that Andrei Arlovski is a legitimate UFC heavyweight title contender in 2015.
Stock Up: Donald Cerrone. The Cowboy's time has finally come. No, a win over John Makdessi in and of itself doesn't qualify you for a title shot. But when you've won eight fights in a row; when that eighth win comes a few months after you fought and won twice in two weeks and avenged a prior loss in the process; when you've developed a fan following which means your name in a title fight can sell a pay-per-view on its own; and when the circumstances with injuries at the top of the division work out in your favor .. well, that means that Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone is the logical lightweight title fight to make.
Hold: Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson. What a strange situation at flyweight. Benavidez and Dodson are both solid contenders. Champion Demetrious Johnson, of course, has beaten them both. In Benavidez's case, twice. And yet, Benavidez may yet still have a better case at a title shot. Benavidez's victory over another former challenger, John Moraga, was his third in a row. It also put him at 10-0 in his past 10 against fighters not nicknamed Mighty Mouse. Dodson, meanwhile, looked tentative in winning a tight decision over Zack Makovsky, who is far from the fast track for a title shot. While I understand why the UFC would be hesitant to give Benavidez another shot at this juncture, Dodson did little to show he deserves it. Perhaps a Benavidez-Dodson fight is the answer.
Stock down: Vitor Belfort. Well, the results in the post-TRT era sure seem to speak for themselves, don't they? Chael Sonnen resorted to cheating, then hit the road. Dan Henderson's decline was precipitous. And now Belfort has gone from knocking everyone silly to gassing in two minutes. The case seems closed on what will go down as one of MMA's seedier sagas.
No bad scoring. No bad stoppages. In fact, Makdessi might have had the best stoppage call of the night when he realized Cerrone had broken his jaw with a head kick and called timeout before "Cowboy" could do any more damage. No angry Dana White rants. B.J. Penn was rightfully named to the UFC Hall of Fame. A near-perfect night in Nevada, of all places. I feel like I should cue up Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day" while I'm at it.
Fight I'd like to see next: Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold
First off, after a night like last night, there are a ton of fights I want to see. I'd like to see Arlovski take on someone in the Junior dos Santos/Stipe Miocic/whomever loses the UFC 188 main event tier. I'm sold on dos Anjos vs. Cerrone. I think Benavidez vs. Dodson, with the winner getting another crack at DJ, makes sense. I saw someone on Twitter suggest a Belfort-Michael Bisping rematch now that Vitor is off his special sauce, and that sounds kind of fun. Oh, and I'd like to see more of Islam Makhachev, period.
But really, there's one fight to make (besides the obvious DC-Jones rematch, and who knows when that might happen?): Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold. For all the right reasons. These are the two best guys in the division. Rockhold's a straight-up wiseass, while Weidman is a more subtle wisecracker, which should make for an amazing fight buildup. Weidman is right on the brink of of A-list stardom; Rockhold has the opportunity to steal his shine. This fight has the potential to be one of the biggest of the year regardless of locale. But if it happens to go down on the first show at Madison Square Garden? All the better.