Jones reclaimed his UFC light-heavyweight belt with a third-round stoppage of Daniel Cormier
As Jon Jones ground and pound Daniel Cormier into the core of the earth, the resulting tremors of his victory were felt around the globe.
Jones is back and everyone is talking about it.
The 30-year-old retained his light-heavyweight title and with it, a future as the UFC’s leading star.
In the absence of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, the UFC has been shorn of a legitimate pay-per-view draw. But with Dana White claiming UFC 214 is trending to hit one million buys, they have a worthy replacement in Jones.
The manner of his win in Anaheim was justification of that claim because ‘Bones’ is box office, the best in the world and the greatest this young sport has ever seen.
At the age of 30, his hit list of prominent victims reads: Bonnar, Bader, Shogun, Rampage, Machida, Evans, Belfort, Sonnen, Gustafsson, Teixeira, Saint-Preux and Cormier times two.
That record is absurd, he’s cleaned out the 205lbs division and the only element of interest resides in the land of the big men with Jones now targeting the biggest of them all.
“Brock Lesnar,” he said to a roar from the California crowd, “If you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by someone who weighs 40lbs less than you, meet me in the Octagon.”
A USADA suspension which still has six months left to run means any hope of a 40-year-old Lesnar returning to take on Jones is, for now at least, a fantasy. But it didn’t stop the WWE superstar from fanning the flames.
“Be careful what you wish for, young man,” Lesnar told the Associated Press.
On the evidence of Saturday, a superfight between the two would be a complete mismatch because Jones possesses otherworldly talents and he used them to knock Cormier out of this one.
Granted, the first two sessions were competitive as the incumbent closed distance well and found some success with his dirty boxing in close, the highlight of which saw him knock Jones’ mouthguard out in the opening round with a string of uppercuts.
But on the perimeter Jones always looked deadly, his 12 inch reach advantage almost comical as he persistently kept Cormier at distance with his hands outstretched, akin to holding a child at bay with a hand on their forehead.
‘DC’ found his rhythm in the second but in the third, a shuddering head kick changed the entire complexion as Jones’ shin connected flush on chin.
Cormier staggered back and Jones ruthless in finding the finish hunted him down, astutely tripped his wounded opponent before applying hellacious ground and pound strikes.
“We knew he dips his head to the left and were waiting on him to instinctually dip that way,” Jones said. “We surprised him with one, and it did the job.”
Understandably, Cormier was emotional post-fight as he was left with the bitter taste of a second defeat to Jones who remains the only man to beat him in MMA.
“I don’t know, man,” Cormier said. “I thought the fight was going well. I don’t even know what happened. I got kicked in the head. Oh, man, I am so disappointed.”
Asked about the rivalry he simply said: “I don’t know. If you win both fights, there is no rivalry.”
It was a harsh assessment from Cormier because in another narrative he is the No1 fighter.
Jones, though, is simply unrivalled in this sport and after this victory, the whole world is in his hands. Ensuring it doesn’t slip from his grasp again will be his greatest challenge.