Jon Jones completed one of the most compelling redemption stories in combat sports history on Saturday when he reclaimed the UFC Light Heavyweight championship with a third-round knockout of Daniel Cormier in the UFC 214 main event.
After a two-year period of struggles that included a hit-and-run, positive drug tests, a stint in jail and being stripped of the UFC belt, Jones regained that belt from his greatest rival, Cormier, courtesy of a thunderous head kick followed by ground strikes inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
It was a tactical and high-paced battle from the outset. "DC" went hard after Jones and threw the kitchen sink and more. He connected with several powerful blows, but "Bones" took them all in stride and maintained his composure, sticking to his game plan of a diverse striking attack.
Finally, Jones timed a perfectly placed left head kick that wobbled Cormier and forced him to stumble around the Octagon. He pounced with more blows, finishing the fight at the 3:01 mark of Round 3.
Immediately after the fight, Jones attempted to squash his beef with Cormier during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
"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, a teammate, leader, and I aspire to be more like that man. Because he is an amazing human being. Unfortunately we're opponents, but outside of that, he is a true champion for the rest of his life."
Once Jones was done with that, he turned to other business, targeting former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, who has been rumored for a potential return to the Octagon in the future.
"Brock Lesnar, you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by someone 40 pounds lighter?" Jones said. "Meet me in the Octagon."
Woodley Underwhelms Again, but Keeps Belt
For the second consecutive time, Tyron Woodley was booed heavily during one of his UFC Welterweight title defenses. He defeated Demian Maia by unanimous decision to defend his belt for the third consecutive time – but he gained no new fans in the process.
In a 170-pound title fight that set the record for least amount of total strikes landed, Woodley stifled the jiu-jitsu specialist Maia over the course of five rounds to take a lopsided win on the scorecards.
Woodley/Maia combine for the fewest strikes landed in a 5-round welterweight title fight (86). They beat Woodley/Thompson 2 (136). #UFC214— Michael Carroll (@MJCflipdascript) July 30, 2017
The fight essentially consisted of Woodley thwarting Maia's takedown attempts and throwing single strikes at a time. That was enough for him to get the win, but during the fight the crowd booed, started the Mexican wave and even pulled out their cell phones and waved them in the air with the flashlight on.
'Cyborg' Destroys Evinger, Finally Claims UFC gold
Arguably the greatest female fighter in MMA history can finally say she's a UFC champion.
After a more than 12-year run of dominance, which only reached the UFC in May 2016, Cris Cyborg was finally given the opportunity to fight for the UFC Women's Featherweight championship. She did what she always does, destroying her opponent in lopsided fashion for a TKO victory.
Credit to Cyborg's opponent Tonya Evinger, who hung tough into the third round after getting dropped with the very first such. The pressure and aggression of the Brazilian was simply too much to handle, though.
Cyborg picked her shots and kept Evinger on the defensive from the opening bell. Evinger couldn't do anything to get her offense going, and in the third round Cyborg connected with a massive knee to the chin, which dropped her to the canvas. She swarmed with punches until the referee stepped in at the 1:56 mark of Round 3.
The 32-year-old has been looming from the outside while the UFC has pushed the likes of Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate and Joanna Jedrzejczyk as the best female fighters out there. They're all very skilled in their own right, but nothing matches the outright destructive presence Cyborg delivers when she steps in the Octagon.
Now it will be interesting to see who the can UFC find, if anyone, that's capable of providing Cyborg with a challenge.
"I'm really happy to be the world champ," she said in her post-fight interview. "This is the perfect time. I think I'm at the top of my career now."
Complete UFC 214 results included:
- Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier via knockout (strikes) – Round 3, 3:01
- Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-26) – to retain welterweight title
- Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger via TKO (knees and punches) – Round 3, 1:56 – to win vacant women's featherweight title
- Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:42
- Ricardo Lamas def. Jason Knight via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:34
- Aljamain Sterling def. Renan Barao via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
- Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 2:59
- Calvin Kattar def. Andre Fili via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jarred Brooks def. Eric Shelton via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 3:04