UFC 214 results, highlights: Jon Jones knocks out Daniel Cormier, regains title
Jones finished things off in the third round with a vicious headkick knockout of Cormier
With his two-year detour of self destruction behind him, Jon Jones returned to the Octagon on Saturday to reclaim his UFC light heavyweight championship. In the process, he may have cemented his status as the greatest fighter in history.
Fighting for just the second time since his January 2015 victory over Daniel Cormier, Jones (23-1) broke open a tight contest during Round 3 by landing a head kick that quickly forced the finish in the main event of UFC 214 in Anaheim, California.
Jones, 30, recorded a nasty third-round TKO over Cormier (19-2), who carried the division as champion during Jones' absence throughout legal issues and a one-year drug suspension. "Bones" kneeled on the ground after hearing his name announced as winner before delivering an emotional and humble post fight interview.
"I made it back man, such a beautiful moment," Jones said. "I did a lot of right things to get back in this position. Anybody at home who let themselves down, let their family down, let their co-workers down -- it's never over. As long as you never quit, it's never over. Oh yes!"
Cormier, 38, was much more game than their first meeting, when he let emotions overtake him, causing him to gas late in a unanimous decision loss. Despite giving up a tremendous height and reach disadvantage, Cormier pressed the action over two close rounds best described as high-speed chess as they traded strikes from close range.
But Cormier's fortunes changed quickly in Round 3 after he ducked forward and walked right into a left high kick from Jones that caught the champion on the side of his head at the point of Jones' shin. Jones quickly cornered the wobbly Cormier against the cage before taking him down and landing strikes as referee John McCarthy jumped in at 3:01.
"We know that he likes to dip his head to the left and we were banking on him instinctually doing that sooner or later," Jones said. "I didn't think I attempted any high kicks and I surprised him with that one and it did the job."
Despite nearly three full years of trash talk which fueled this rivalry, making it one of the most exciting in UFC history (helped by a string of unrelated cancelations and postponements), both fighters were polite in the aftermath. The only incident of any kind came from a still woozy Cormier, who didn't appear to know he had been knocked out and pushed McCarthy as the referee went to grab his arm during Bruce Buffer's announcement of Jones as the winner.
"It is over. I want to take this time to thank Daniel Cormier for being my biggest rival and motivator," Jones said. "Daniel Cormier, guys, he has absolutely no reason to hang his head. He has been a model champion, a model husband, a model father, teammate and leader. And I aspire to be a lot more like that man because he's an amazing human being. Unfortunately, we are opponents but he is a true champion for the rest of his life."
Cormier, whom Jones heckled for more than two years after he cried in the aftermath of their first bout, didn't shy away from doing the same after the rematch. He also didn't appear to be fully recovered from the knockout at the time of the post-fight interview.
"I don't know man, I thought the fight was going well. I don't even know what happened," Cormier said. "They say I got kicked in the head? Oh man, that's so disappointing.
"I guess if he wins both fights there is no rivalry so I don't know."
Jones, who returned to the cage for the first time since a tentative decision win over late replacement Ovince Saint Preux in 2016, appeared in top form this time and was crisp and focused throughout. He controlled distance well for most of the first round and made Cormier pay with short kicks and long jabs until DC finally broke through to close the round with a flurry of punches.
Cormier caught an accidental head butt in Round 2 and was cut above his left eye. It didn't slow him down, however, as Cormier did well to get inside Jones and time him score from the clinch.
"It feels unbelievable, it feels unbelievable. It's a surreal moment," Jones said. "Thank you guys, thank you all. Everybody. All the love, all the support. I know it hasn't been easy to root for me but I have the most loyal fans ever. I love you all, thank you so much.
"Even the haters, even the negativity and the discouraging things that was said, I love you guys too because you motivated me to just keep fighting and prove you all wrong. I love you all.
Jones, who made headlines during fight week by sharing his interest in moving up to heavyweight to face former champion Brock Lesnar, called out the current WWE star after the fight before dropping the microphone to the ground.
"Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the Octagon," Jones said.
UFC 214 results
|Jon Jones (c)||Daniel Cormier||3rd-round TKO|
|Tyron Woodley (c)||Demian Maia||Unanimous decision|
|Cris "Cyborg" Justino (c)||Tonya Evinger||3rd-round TKO|
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