“Keep adding, and you come to the conclusion that ‘no contest’ would have been fairer and more appropriate than a disqualification.” -Thomas Hauser on Roy Jones’ first career “loss”, which can also easily be applied to Roy’s long-lost nephew Jon’s one career blemish
“I can feel it in my bones, I can feel it in my testosterone when it’s on” -Method Man, Killin’ Fields
Jon Jones cemented his claim as not only the best fighter on the planet, but in the history of MMA as well with a devestating third-round KO of Daniel Cormier to reclaim the light heavyweight title that he never lost in the cage. Cormier (19-2) never looked or fought better in his entire career, had a great game plan, and was able to disrupt Jones’ (23-1) rhythm early—it just didn’t matter. The gap in striking skill and versatility was almost as evident as the gap in height and reach as the bout wore on. While chasing his opponent down, Cormier ran headlong into a head kick that signaled the beginning of the end as Jones violently pounced to finish the bout decisively.
It looked like Bones was in search of a highlight reel finish early, as he stormed from his stool and came out much more aggressively than usual, landing an array of kicks and punches while effortlessly gliding in and out of both orthodox and southpaw. Cormier wisely countered Jones’ deadly oblique kicks with leg kicks of his own, disrupting Jones’ rhythm. Cormier also did not engage in the hand fighting from distance that Bones uses so effectively to measure his opponents. Thirty seconds into the bout Cormier knocked Jones’ mouthpiece out with a thudding left hook, but Jones kept circling and setting distance. D.C. used leg and body kicks to get in range late in the round and landed some hard, effective punches with both hands as Jones retreated. Jones was much busier but Cormier might have stolen the round with his last minute onslaught.
Jones went back to his extensive bag of tricks in the second, landing oblique kicks, and debilitating front kicks and knees to the body. Halfway through the round and Jones’ volume striking was effectively keeping D.C. at bay until a hard overhand right landed on the back of a dipping Jones’ head, and seemed to slightly turn the tide. Emboldened by the hard shot, Cormier started uncharacteristically talking trash and dismissively shaking his head at Bones’ strikes. An inside left hook-right uppercut combo landed heavily for Cormier before he executed a brief trip that was immediately reversed. D.C. kept stalking and landing punches however, including a sharp one-two with thirty seconds left in the round, and a head-snapping right at the ten second clap. Once again Bones landed more over the course of five minutes, but Cormier definitely took the round in terms of damage done. He pursued Jones the entire round, and was knocking him around with the far harder punches in the final minute.
Cormier came out confident in the third but Jones once again drowned him with volume striking from beyond his range. A picture perfect left hook to the body followed by an oblique kick, and then a sharp one-two and two leg kicks were the kind of impossibly diverse combinations Cormier had to wade through in dogged pursuit of his opponent. More kicks and punches from Jones continued to land, including a pair of brutal left hooks to the body—a strike that became more and more effective for Jones. Cormier kept up his stop-and-start pursuit but was unable to get in range to land anything substantial. He started following Bones around the cage instead of cutting it off, and had his attack continually stifled by the enormous twelve-inch reach disadvantage. After stalking Cormier for the first time in the fight earlier in the round, Bones began circling out of range again midway through. As D.C. trotted forward he was met with a swift left head kick from southpaw that stunned him badly and sent him stumbling backwards across the octagon.
With his opponent seriously hurt, Jones was as deadly efficient as he was lethal in closing the show. He chased his wounded prey down, wind-milling his right hand in front of Cormier’s face to further distract him, then switched stances and landed a big left from southpaw. As Cormier continued to stumble back, Bones kicked his leg out from under him, causing him to spin around disoriented. When Cormier briefly regained his bearings he was met with a flying knee/kick to the body while against the fence and went down.
Pinned to the cage on his side, Cormier ate a series of left hands and elbows before desperately turning over to escape, but got stuck and pulverized with left hands landing both under and over his arm until he went put completely. Jones kept pounding away with punches until hall-of-fame referee Big John McCarthy—who was later widely criticized for allowing Cormier to take too many shots after he was out—jumped in to halt the action. Cormier did eat at least three unnecessary shots after he was already unconscious, but under the circumstances, a champion who has never been stopped and is in a career-defining grudge match should be given as much rope as possible. Big John was justified in giving Cormier every opportunity to recover, and after the fight, Cormier still said he thought it was stopped too early.
Cormier was still dazed several minutes after the bout was stopped as Jones was announced as the new champion, and collapsed wearing his old/new belt. Cormier was inconsolable after the loss, emotionally declaring the rivalry null in void following Jones’ second-straight victory. A jubilant Jones camp explained that they had scouted Cormier’s tendency to dip to his side and planned to counter it with a head kick the entire training camp. Now with the light heavyweight division all but cleaned out, Bones surprised fans by calling out semi-retired heavyweight Brock Lesnar of all people. I’ve wanted Bones to move up to heavyweight for years, but this wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it. Meanwhile, as undoubtedly the second-best light heavyweight in the world, the 38 year-old former Strike Force heavyweight Grand Prix champion Cormier now finds his career at a crossroads. Does he follow Bones up to his old division of heavyweight for a final showdown, or is he content to be the number two light heavyweight on earth? Or does he begin to think about retirement?
And the most important question of all, does this victory signal that Bones is finally done fuckin his career up outside the octagon so he can pursue his rightful destiny as the greatest fighter who ever lived? As he has continued to disappointingly prove in the past, only time will tell if the “new” Jones is no longer his own worst enemy and toughest opponent, and is truly here to stick around for good.