UFC 214 provided the promotion a much needed shot in the arm after a lacklustre first half of the year.
Top to bottom the card delivered on its hype, topped out by a phenomenal performance by Jon Jones to regain the UFC light-heavyweight belt from Daniel Cormier.
Away from the main event, though, key narratives formed so here are four things learned from UFC 214.
Criticism of Tyron Woodley is harsh
It was foolish to have hoped UFC crowds had outgrown booing and jeering fighters but the moronic gesticulating returned in the co-main event of UFC 214.
Yes, Tyron Woodley’s win over Demian Maia was far from enthralling but booing any fighter who steps foot into the Octagon is infuriatingly obtuse.
The welterweight champ faced a challenger who has suffocated his last seven opponents, a BJJ specialist who will capitlise on any error.
Caution reigned supreme but at the highest level of competitive sport, and this is a sport despite the separating line from entertainment ever more blurring, finding a way to win supersedes the performance.
Punishing the champ, who is undefeated in his last six fights, by taking away a clash with Georges St-Pierre is ruthless and the ensuing criticism from fans and UFC president Dana White harsh at best and at worst degrading.
Cyborg is women’s MMA GOAT
A UFC belt wasn’t required for confirmation but by adding the featherweight strap to her collection, Cyborg cemented her spot as the greatest women’s MMA fighter ever.
The Brazilian, is virtually unbeatable and her dominance unquestionable. Victory is a matter of when, not if and against a tough as nails Tonya Evinger the ‘when’ was the third round.
Evinger recovered from a first-round knockdown to at least delay the inevitable before being crumpled by hard knees to the body in the third session.
Cyborg has long been anointed the best female MMA fighter on the planet and with UFC gold wrapped around her waist, she has the crown to legitimise that claim.
And for the first defence of her title, Cyborg targeted one of the best strikers in the game, Holly Holm – serve it up.
Robbie Lawler is the next in line
The fun is over, now it’s time to get back to business. Former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler stepped back into the Octagon for the first time since losing the belt to Tyron Woodley and he took a decision against Donald Cerrone.
From a rankings perspective the fight did nothing for Lawler but as a savage spectacle, watching these two high-output strikers go toe-to-toe was the brawl we all imagined it would be.
As Cerrone said after defeat “that was fun” but Lawler was typically stoic in victory as he put himself firmly back in the title picture.
The performance didn’t inspire too much confidence as he scraped the first and final round but welterweight isn’t exactly flooded with contenders right now and if Woodley has lost out on the GSP fight then Lawler could be next.
Volkan Oezdemir is king of the boop punch
It took Volkan Oezdemir 42 seconds to replace Jimi Manuwa as the man next in line for a potential 205lbs title shot.
The Swiss has taken out two light-heavyweight contenders in just 70 seconds as he followed up the 28 second stoppage of Misha Cirkunov with a dynamite finish of Manuwa.
And both have come from shots with virtually no leverage, just short and accurate strikes to the chin, a sneaky left-hook in the clinch taking the legs from Manuwa before he bounced his head off the canvas.
It marked his third straight win in the UFC and fifth overall capping a remarkable ascension in the last five months from complete unknown to top-five light-heavyweight and a contender for 2017’s breakout fighter.