After years of buildup, Daniel Cormier finally got his shot at Jon "Bones" Jones. It didn't go the way he always wanted it to, however, as the reigning champion successfully defended his title at UFC 182 via unanimous decision.
MMAJunkie tweeted out the result:
UFC 182 results: Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) http://t.co/XurzVzPodE2015-1-4 05:56:20
Dave Doyle of MMAFighting.com had Cormier's thoughts after the fight:
Dave Doyle @davedoylemma
DC: “I just couldn’t find my rhythm tonight. Jon is the best for a reason and he was the better man tonight.”2015-1-4 06:12:49
Mike Bohn of USA Today and RJ Clifford of FOX Sports added more from Jones:
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
Jon Jones on FS1 post-fight show: "This was absolutely not the toughest fight of my career. Alexander Gustafsson was toughest of my career."2015-1-4 06:33:55
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
Jon Jones on FS1 post-fight show: "Whenever someone faced up to him and is a man, he breaks. He says he's the king of the grind, he's not."2015-1-4 06:33:34
RJ Clifford @RJcliffordMMA
"I don't like Daniel Cormier. I don't respect Daniel Cormier. I hope he's crying somewhere. I know he is." -Jon Jones2015-1-4 06:35:51
In Round 1, it appeared that Jones might be able to utilize his reach to coast to yet another easy victory. Despite DC's best efforts to close the distance, Jones was able to control the pace and land more effectively.
As the second round got underway, Cormier showed that it wouldn't be that easy. The former Olympic wrestler was able to close the distance and fight primarily in the clinch. The result was some damage from both fighters, but Cormier found a way to make it a competitive affair with dirty boxing.
Much of the pre-fight hype centered on which of the wrestlers could get the takedowns. In the fourth round, we got our answer. Jones landed two as Cormier appeared to be running out of steam. The first of the four championship rounds appeared to signal the end for the challenger.
The fifth played out much like the fourth as Jones controlled the fight in the clinch. Cormier was finally able to take the champion down with a slam, but it was too little, too late. Jones had won the bout on the judges' cards.
The buzz surrounding this bout rang louder than any in recent memory. With Jones currently the closest thing the UFC has to an invincible champion, Cormier looked like one of few challengers with an actual chance to dethrone the king.
Now, the legacy of Jones has taken yet another huge step forward.
There's no doubt that Cormier is now one of the biggest accomplishments on an already stellar resume for the champion. The former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion is an Olympic-caliber wrestler and a fighter who was dominant in the heavyweight division.
There aren't too many mountains left to climb in the light heavyweight division for Bones.
Perhaps the biggest fight left in the division for the champion is a familiar opponent. His bout with Alexander Gustafsson was an instant classic. The 6'5" Swede flashed signs of being Jones' foil in their UFC 165 bout.
Jones ultimately earned a unanimous decision, but it was about as close as a decision can get. He won 48-47 on two scorecards while one judge saw it 49-46 for the champion, per FightMetric.
Since the bout, Gustafsson has flattened Jimi Manuwa and will fight Anthony Johnson on January 24. The bout is labeled as a title eliminator, per MMAJunkie, but one never knows in the UFC. Will "The Mauler" get another crack at proving Jones is mortal with a win over "Rumble?"
Another option for Jones might be a move up to the heavyweight ranks. He's already expressed interest in fighting current interim heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, via Bloody Elbow:
Bloody Elbow @BloodyElbow
Fabricio Werdum accepts Jon Jones’ superfight challenge: I would fight him for sure without any problem http://t.co/aaAY0DpVPu2014-11-21 17:00:09
Regardless of whether fans root for or against the champion, where he goes from here will be a top storyline in the UFC. There are numerous possibilities and nearly all of them lead to more intriguing fights as the sport's most dominant figure.
For Cormier, this loss is a bitter disappointment. Not only did DC's 15-fight winning streak come to a crashing halt, but he came just short of claiming UFC gold. At 35 years old, Cormier knows these opportunities are few and far between. It's a fact that Cormier made known via Jeremy Botter of Bleacher Report:
I've never been in the best in the world at anything. And this will probably be my last chance to do something and be the best in the world. I'm 35 years old. I probably won't get many more opportunities to prove that I can be the best at something. I feel like this is my last opportunity, and I've trained and worked my tail off to give myself that chance.
Despite the loss, it doesn't seem fair to throw around the word "failure" when talking about Cormier's title bid. He simply ran into a once-in-a-generation talent.
There have been plenty of world-class fighters who have done it before him, and there will likely be more who suffer the same fate when matched up with Jones.