Jon Jones broke down in tears in the octagon on Saturday night in Anaheim, as a tumultuous but remarkable two-year-plus journey back to the light-heavyweight title came to an end and the championship belt was wrapped around his waist once again.
Jones started very aggressively against bitter rival Daniel Cormier but his mouthpiece was soon sent flying by a beautiful short uppercut. After that, Jones fought mainly on the back-foot, using his legs to maintain distance and landing the occasional long left hand. Cormier, as the UFC commentary team noted on several occasions, looked much more comfortable on the feet than he had in the pair’s previous meeting and he came on toward the end of the round, backing Jones into the fence with a nice combo in the final minute before landing with a big overhand right moments later.
It was a tough round to score, with Jones landing with greater frequency but Cormier finding the heavier shots to the head.
It was a somewhat similar story in the second, as Jones made good use of teeps and roundhouse kicks to the body on a constantly advancing Cormier who landed less often but with thudding force. ‘D.C’ once again closed the round with a heavy winging right hand.
In the third, Cormier seemed to be struggling with the range more than in the previous rounds, although when he was allowed on the inside for a brief moment near the beginning of the session he landed a lovely hook, uppercut combo. All of this was made immaterial just after the halfway mark of the stanza, however, as Jones landed a sickening head kick that sent Cormier sprawling across the cage in a daze. Jones gave chase and took Cormier’s jelly legs from underneath him with a kick before pouncing on ‘D.C’ to deliver one of the most vicious barrages of grounded strikes we have seen in some time. ‘Big’ John McCarthy stepped in to call a halt to the fight at 3:01 of the third round.
"Jon Jones is back!" 🏆
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) July 30, 2017
“We know that he likes to dip his head to the left and we were banking on him to instinctually dip that way sooner or later,” Jones told Joe Rogan after the fight. “I didn’t throw many high kicks and I surprised him with that one and it finished the job.”
With the win, Jon Jones moves to 23-1 as a professional, 2-0 against Cormier and likely puts the pair’s great rivalry to bed.