Daniel Cormier dominates a game Anderson Silva at UFC 200

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LAS VEGAS -- Daniel Cormier dominated last-minute replacement opponent Anderson Silva on Saturday night at UFC 200, despite Silva and referee John McCarthy's best efforts. Time and again, Cormier took Silva down with ease and battered him on the ground with strikes.

Not once was Silva able to stand up on his own after being taken down by Cormier, yet he was given repeated assists from the referee in the form of "stand-ups." When given those chances by McCarthy, Silva put forth aggressive attempts to take advantage, with kicks, knees, elbows and punches.

Still, neither Silva's courageous efforts nor the referee's lamentable ones were enough to stop the inevitability of Cormier's victory. He took Silva down at will over and over again, and landed scores of punches and elbows to the head of the downed legend.

After a first round of being dominated, Silva was aggressive with every moment and inch of freedom on the feet that he had. "The Spider" fired off flying switch kicks, reverse up-elbows, knees and punches.

Many of them landed, even hurting Cormier. One left kick to the body late in the third and final round, in particular, hit Cormier's right arm and made him wince in pain.

Cormier, however, was able to absorb Silva's strikes and take the fight where he needed each time the former middleweight king connected with a big hit. After scores of 30-26 all-around from the judges were announced, Cormier said he fought the fight he needed to in order to beat the man he called "the greatest fighter we've ever seen in the Octagon."

"Most guys would not take this fight," Cormier said.

"They wouldn't do it. But, I thought I needed to ... I was a little nervous -- he is so good. I did what I had to do. It is very difficult to switch opponents on two days' notice."

Silva was in good spirits with his coaches and sons around him in the cage afterward. "This fight was a big personal challenge for me," he said.

"This is a proof that you can do anything that you want. That you can do anything that you set your mind to."

Silva's guts in taking this fight were almost unbelievable. In February he battled for five brutal rounds with now-champion Michael Bisping, surely sustaining damage.

Then, he accepted a fight just a couple months later before having to pull out and get an emergency surgery. The legend said he wasn't able to train much at all since his surgery, but still sought out the fight with Cormier.

"This was a good test," Silva said. "This is a great night for me. I respect you people. Thank you."

The win improves Cormier's record to 18-1. Silva's career mark dips to 33-8-1.