JON JONES laid his demons to rest and once again ascended the UFC’s light-heavyweight throne, regaining his title by stopping Daniel Cormier at the Honda Center in Anaheim, in what was one of the most anticipated fights in the history of MMA.
Jones, whose troubles have been well documented, ended the rivalry with Cormier in the third round following a head kick that had the champion scrambling, before he finished the job with some nasty ground-and-pound that separated “DC” from his senses.
The build-up to UFC 214 has rightly been dominated by this fight and the expectation was at fever pitch by the time the two entered the Octagon. There is no doubt that these are the two greatest light-heavyweights of all time and they have served up a rivalry that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Jones raced out of the traps in the opening round, perhaps doing enough to edge the round, however Cormier, who was a much more composed fighter than he was in their first meeting, soaked up the pressure and finished the round the stronger of the two.
The second was just as close. Cormier continued marching forward, keeping the pressure on the former champion “Bones”, who used his range to keep Cormier at bay, in particular utilising some solid looking body work.
Cormier continued to press in the third, however Jones stepped it up a gear, making him miss, before unleashing a big head kick that sent Cormier reeling. Cormier was down and hurt, so Jones was on him in a flash and unloading some sickening strikes to the stricken champion.
Referee John McCarthy gave him every opportunity, but there was simply no response and he had no choice but to step in and hand Jones back the title he never lost in the cage, as he will now begin his second reign as the king of the light-heavyweight division.
Jones though may have other ambitions, as he called out former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar after the fight. Lesnar is rumoured to be returning to the Octagon after his drug ban is up. He failed a test last July at UFC 200, where he defeated Mark Hunt.
It is a contest that is certain to capture the imagination in much the same way as this one did and Jones’ trajectory could well see him end up as the greatest of all time. As for Cormier, a move back to heavyweight appears to be his most likely course of action.
In the chief support at UFC 214, Tyron Woodley remains the UFC welterweight champion after a disappointing fight with #1 ranked contender Demian Maia, which will be most remembered for the boos that rained down from the crowd after five rounds had concluded.
Woodley won 50-45 and 49-46 twice in a fight where Maia simply had no ‘plan b’ and the champion had to do very little to win a round. The Brazilian challenger shot for no less than 24 takedown attempts, all to no avail as Woodley’s takedown defence held up. “The Chosen One’s” 2017 remains drab to say the least, but he has now defeated the best striker and best grappler in the division in successive defences.
Cris Cyborg finally added UFC gold to her resume, stopping Tonya Evinger in the third round to become the new Featherweight champion. The belt was vacant after previous champion Germaine de Randamie was stripped of the title for refusing to fight Cyborg.
It was always a matter of time before she secured the stoppage, landing at will with some powerful blows, which Evinger soaked up until the third, where she was finally outgunned, collapsing under the weight of some horrible knee strikes, before the referee thankfully stepped in. She will be a good addition to the UFC ranks at her regular weight down a division at bantam.
Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone combined for an absolute tear-up at welterweight, in which Lawler took home a unanimous decision, 29-28, on all three scorecards in what was his first fight since he was starched by Woodley last July.
Cerrone drops his second straight defeat, but it was a tight encounter that could have gone either way, depending on how you scored the first round. Cerrone took the second clearly, whilst Lawler was the clear victor in the third, but it was worth the wait after being made at the third attempt.
To round off the main card, it was a disastrous night for British light-heavyweight Jimi Manuwa, who was destroyed inside a minute by Swiss star Volkan Oezdemir in a fight that could well determine the next contender for the title now held by Jones.
Manuwa had his man in a clinch on the cage, before an uppercut staggered him and a left hook dropped him, leaving him wide open for an Oezdemir onslaught to end proceedings. It was Oezdemir’s third win of 2017, whilst Manuwa, who has been talking up a fight with boxing heavyweight David Haye, has seen his title credentials evaporate in double quick fashion.
On the preliminary card, featherweight Ricardo Lamas lived up to his nickname, “bullying” Jason Knight into a first round stoppage defeat with a barrage of solid, unanswered strikes. Knight showed heart and a chin, but he was soundly beaten.
Aljamain Sterling put on a career best performance, taking a unanimous decision win over former world champion Renan Barao in a special 140lb catchweight contest. Also at featherweight, Brian Ortega won the battle of the unbeaten’s with an excellent third round submission over Renato Moicano, whilst UFC debutant Calvin Kattar put on a clinic against the vastly more experienced Andre Fili to win by unanimous decision also at 145lbs.
To kick off the evening we saw three fights on the UFC Fight Pass, led by a fun brawl between Aleksandra Albu and Kailin Curran, which saw Albu win a unanimous decision in her first fight since 2015. Jarred Brooks won on his UFC debut at flyweight in a close encounter with Eric Shelton, which could have gone either way, whilst finally Drew Dober needed a single, monstrous left hand to end Josh Burkman’s night in the first round.
At the end of it all though, UFC 214 will be remembered as the night Jones returned to the top.