Jon Jones already was the most dominant light heavyweight champion in UFC history, and his résumé now includes a victory over a two-time Olympian after he put on possibly the most impressive performance of his career, besting Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 182 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
"He’s only human. All this crap he talks, it motivated me," Jones said after the win. "… I do not like DC and that’s why I’m being this way."
The bad blood between the two fighters was undeniable and the tension in the MGM Grand Garden Arena was palpable as Jones and Cormier finally stepped into the Octagon.
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Following a brawl between the two that broke out during a press event last August, the anticipation for this fight was at a fever pitch.
Jones (21-1) set the pace early, using his long reach to keep Cormier at bay as the shorter wrestler tried to find a way to apply pressure and get inside. Cormier kept it close, but Jones still put together enough combinations and better overall strikes to take the first round.
Cormier (15-1) came storming back in Round 2 as he finally made the fight into a dirty boxing match, moving inside of Jones’ reach and pummeling the champion with short uppercuts. Cormier’s confidence grew going into the third, as he started to hit Jones with the same inside combinations, but Jones weathered the storm and fired back with an equal amount of strikes.
The fourth round was by far the most definitive for the champion, as Jones came out gunning for Cormier, scooping him up and putting him down on the mat for the first time in his career. Cormier bounced up, but Jones wasted no time slipping another double leg and putting him down again.
The momentum shifted in a big way in the penultimate round, but Cormier wasn’t going to be deterred as he tried to find a home for his own takedown in the final five minutes. Cormier got under Jones’ leg at one point and lifted the champion and tossed him to the mat, but only for a second before the fighters were back on their feet once again.
The final seconds saw Jones raise his hands in victory, believing he was clearly up on the scorecards, and then the two exchanged a few more swings as the final horn sounded.
The judges returned unanimous scores of 49-46 across the board, giving Jones his eighth successful title defense, further cementing him as the best 205-pound fighter in the history of the sport.
Jones’ anger certainly didn’t dissipate with the victory, and Cormier wasted no time exiting the Octagon. These two very well could meet again in the near future.
Regardless of personal feelings, Jones showed once again that he’s not only the best fighter in his weight class but the absolute best in all of mixed martial arts.