Jon Jones put the final nail in the coffin of his rivalry with Daniel Cormier in emphatic fashion, a third-round TKO. Cormier has only lost to one man and never been finished before Saturday night at UFC 214.
With the win, Jones reclaims the throne of the light heavyweight division and perhaps the mantle of Greatest of All Time.
The biggest hurdle for Jones was his ability to shake off the rust after just one fight in over two years. He opened the fight looking crisp, but a collected Cormier appeared to be an improved fighter, even catching Jones at the end of the first round.
In the second round, Cormier found his groove and confidence oozed through his in-ring showmanship. He audibly told Jones "No" when strikes didn’t land and after defending a takedown busted out a finger wag that would make Dikembe Mutombo proud.
Ultimately Jones proved that he is not only a talented fighter but an intelligent one. He noticed a trend in Cormier’s movements and exploited it, throwing a kick that caught Cormier in the head. Cormier stumbled and Jones pounced, throwing ground-and-pound to force the stoppage.
In defeat, Cormier struggled to control his emotions and grapple with the outcome. He walked off, visibly agitated as Bruce Buffer was about to read the decision. Jones, surprisingly, look disappointed.
“I want to thank Cormier for being my biggest rivalry and motivator,” Jones said. “He has no reason to hang his head.
“Cormier is a model husband, a model father and a great champion. He’ll always be a champion.”
Cormier couldn’t muster the words afterward. After his interview with Joe Rogan, Jones took the microphone one last time to put an exclamation point on the night by calling out WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar.
And it was one of the best promos we’ve seen in a while.
Tyron Woodley outsmarts Demian Maia
Woodley proved once again that he isn’t interested in entertaining fans, just winning fights. A plan to neutralize Maia’s strengths was executed perfectly. Maia, a jiu jitsu black belt, was 0 for 24 for takedowns.
Throughout the fight, Woodley and Maia were booed for the lack of action, setting the record for the least amount of strikes in a welterweight title fight.
That kind of reception is not fair to Woodley, or any fighter for that matter. The goal of the fighter is to win. Throwing strikes with reckless abandon for the sake of entertainment is how fighters get caught, stunned and upset. But unlike other sports, fighters have more to lose: They’ll get paid less per fight, miss out on pay-per-view revenue and potentially sponsorship money.
If this were an SEC football game ending in a 6-3 score, fans would call it an all-time classic. Instead of Woodley being called intelligent or a mastermind, he is criticized for winning a fight soundly.
Cris Cyborg defeats Tonya Evinger
After Germaine de Randamie refused to fight Cyborg, the UFC vacated the women’s featherweight title, which the broadcast repeatedly reminded viewers to build up Cyborg during the fight.
Evinger was billed as having a snowball’s chance in a Texas summer, and the odds on the fight reflected that sentiment. But she survived to the third round, and for a brief moment, offered a sliver of hope that Cyborg might be challenged in championship rounds.
Cyborg’s power ended the fight and gave her the overdue UFC women’s featherweight title.
“I knew she was a tough girl. She’s top-10 at 135,” Cyborg said. “I’m happy she had the opportunity to be in the UFC.”
There is still work to do in building out a featherweight division, notably signing featherweight fighters. Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson, who was originally slated to be Cyborg’s opponent, is a future opponent. Cyborg also named Holly Holm, but she is a more natural 135-pound fighter. An Ultimate Fighter season to build out the women’s featherweight division seems like a necessity in the near future.
But finally, Cyborg is a UFC featherweight champion.
1. Volkan Oezdemir is a legitimate contender after defeating Jimi Manuwa in stunning fashion.
2. Woodley has the ability to game plan better than almost anyone, and more impressively, executes and sticks to his plan. More importantly, Woodley has prioritized winning over entertaining. He doesn’t care about the boos and he is professional in the way he handles disgruntled fans.
3. Evinger is tough, and made it to the third round against Cyborg. In doing so, Evinger might have shown other female featherweights that Cyborg isn’t to be as feared as she is made out to be.
4. Evinger might also have given a blue print in how to challenge Cyborg to be in a position to win, survive and look to test her endurance in the championship rounds. That’s easier said than done.
5. Women’s MMA stole the show again. Kailin Curran and Alexandra Albu put on a thriller in the main event of the Fight Pass preliminary card.
6. Jones was able to change gears to show a humble side that praised Cormier, and it was a nice conclusion to the rivalry. Now the collective MMA fan base is clamoring for Jones and Lesnar to fight, and I can’t say I blame them.
1. Volkan Oezdemir – Dispatched Jimi Manuwa in 22 seconds to stake his claim for a light heavyweight title shot.
2. Jon Jones – Defeated Daniel Cormier in the third round via TKO after a beautiful head kick and relentless ground and pound.
3. Drew Dober – Knocked out Josh Burkman to open the fight in impressive fashion.
Dober stars of the fight with a quick knockout.
Brian Ortega locks in a guillotine for a win in the third round
Woodley drops Maia in the second round
“I don’t know what’s happening in my hands, but it’s dynamite.”
- Volkan Oezdemir
“I don’t know what comes next but I would love to face Holly Holm. I think she was a great champion and fans would like to see us fight.”
“I'm ready to take on Georges St-Pierre on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden.”
"Brock Lesnar, want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by someone who weighs 40 lbs less than you? Meet me in the Octagon."
Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier via TKO (strikes) at 3:01 of R3
Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger via TKO (strikes) at 1:56 of R3
Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa via KO (punches) at :22 of R1
Ricardo Lamas def. Jason Knight via TKO at 4:34 of R1
Aljamain Sterling def. Renan Barao via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano via submission (guillotine) at 2:59 of R3
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 KO at 3:04 of R1
The next event is UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City on August 5, headlined by a flyweight showdown between Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno. The winner could be in line for the next flyweight title shot.
Then the next time a UFC fighter steps into a fight will be when Conor McGregor faces Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in a boxing match.