The bitter rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier came to an epic conclusion to close out the show at UFC 214 on Saturday in Anaheim, California. With one hellacious left high kick, Bones reclaimed the division he once ruled over so forcefully.
The new champion dethroned Cormier with a third-round TKO, but it wasn't the easiest of his long list of victories.
Cormier had his moments. The former Olympian looked much more prepared for the second fight against Jones. In the first two rounds, he gave Jones problems with his aggressive pressure on the inside, even knocking out Jones' mouthpiece with uppercuts in the early going, as UFC Canada showed:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
Uppercuts from @DC_MMA knocks Jones' mouth guard out at #UFC214 https://t.co/zrte7n9OcE2017-7-30 04:45:41
A much more confident, relaxed DC had it looking like this fight was headed toward another five-round brawl. Josh Gross of The Guardian had the score in favor of Cormier in both of the first two rounds:
Josh Gross @yay_yee
So good. So good. DC is calm and doing strong work. Jones has his moments too. Very close round. 20-18 DC.2017-7-30 04:56:58
However, Jones showed he can change the complexion of a fight in just one strike. Though one-strike power is rare from him, the left high kick he landed as Cormier ducked his head was showcased in the UFC's congratulatory tweet:
He's done it .... AGAIN. The LHW division is ruled yet again by @JonnyBones #UFC214 #JonBonesJones https://t.co/tDVyFhmjzb2017-7-30 05:12:06
The kick stymied Cormier and sent him across the cage searching for consciousness. Jones, who was ready to take his division back, met him instead.
After the fight, Jones was complimentary of his longtime rival, potentially closing the door on this series for good while calling out another potential opponent in Brock Lesnar:
Jones: DC is a model husband, a model father, and a great champion. He’ll always be a champion. #UFC2142017-7-30 05:05:04
Jones: Lesnar. If you want to find out what it’s like to get your ass kicked by a guy who weight 40 lbs less than you, meet me here. #UFC2142017-7-30 05:07:21
Overall, it was an excellent ending to a great night of fights. The stacked card lived up to the potential in many ways, including the coronation of Cris Cyborg and a great welterweight collision between Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone.
Here's a look at all the results, along with a closer look at each of the main card bouts.
UFC 214 Quick Results
Main Card on pay-per-view
- Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier, TKO (Round 3, 3:01)
- Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia, unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
- Cris "Cyborg" Justino def. Tonya Evinger, TKO (Round 3, 1:56)
- Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa, knockout (Round 1, 0:42)
Prelims on FXX
- Ricardo Lamas def. Jason Knight, TKO (Round 1, 4:34)
- Aljamain Sterling def. Renan Barao, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
- Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano, submission (Round 3, 2:59)
- Calvin Kattar def. Andre Fili, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Prelims on UFC Fight Pass
- Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jarred Brooks def. Eric Shelton, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman, knockout (Round 1, 3:04)
Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia
If Tyron Woodley was hoping this would be the title defense that would turn him into a fan favorite, he has to be disappointed. The champion successfully defended his title in an oddly lopsided decision, though.
Maia's attempt to take the title looked a lot like his bizarre performance against Anderson Silva seven years ago. The dangerous jiu-jitsu practitioner looked for takedown after takedown, but forcing the matter was Plan A, B, C and D for the 39-year-old.
The problem was the Brazilian didn't land a single one.
Essentially, the fight looked a lot like this highlight posted by the UFC—for five rounds:
There's a reason @TWooodley's takedown defense is 💯 #UFC214 https://t.co/7SmLMzud8K2017-7-30 04:18:12
Woodley did land an overhand right that floored the challenger in the second round, but that excitement was short-lived.
Overall, Woodley was put in a bad position. Maia is such a dangerous opponent on the ground that Woodley had to go to great lengths not to let the fight go there, yet Maia refused to engage in the striking department.
It wasn't his most impressive performance, but Woodley did what he had to do in winning the bout on points. After the fight, the champion was ready to move on to a date with Georges St-Pierre later this year, per Mike Dyce of Sports Illustrated:
Mike Dyce @mikedyce
"I'm ready to take on Georges St-Pierre on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden" - Tyron Woodley #UFC2142017-7-30 04:24:01
Cris Cyborg vs. Tonya Evinger
The Cyborg era has officially started in the UFC. The longtime Strikeforce and Invicta star became a UFC champion with her third-round TKO of Tonya Evinger.
The fight played out just about like any other Cyborg fight, with the exception of the timetable. Where most mortals get put away by Cyborg's overwhelming speed and power in the first round, Evinger was able to move, clinch and tough her way through two frames before meeting her demise.
The UFC provided a good example of the average Cyborg offensive in this fight:
OH @CrisCyborg letting the hands go early!!! On to round 2!! #UFC214 https://t.co/83Ceo1axND2017-7-30 03:20:18
Evinger gets credit for extending this matchup with her toughness and movement. It does nothing to damage the stock of Cyborg, though, as she's been the most dominant force in women's MMA for years.
This result just opens the door to many more intriguing matchups for the new champion in the relatively new division. Damon Martin of UFC.com said what had to be on a lot of fans' minds:
Damon Martin @DamonMartin
I hope we get to see Cyborg vs. Holly Holm one day. Cyborg is so aggressive, Holm excels as a counter striker. I think it would be fun.2017-7-30 03:36:05
Whether it's Holly Holm, Germaine de Randamie or Ronda Rousey, Cyborg established that she's the kind of fighter fans will want to tune in to see because there's going to be action.
This was just the beginning of what's sure to be an interesting championship campaign.
Donald Cerrone vs. Robbie Lawler
This fight promised violence, and it delivered. Lawler and Cerrone might not be as sharp as they once were, but they're still two of their division's best action fighters, and they didn't disappoint here.
Lawler appeared ready to put the fight away early. He swarmed Cerrone in Round 1 and looked like he was going to be able to hand Cowboy a quick loss. The UFC provided the highlight:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
Wasting no time! @Ruthless_RL comes out firing at #UFC214! https://t.co/LMNcBKMoPY2017-7-30 02:42:56
Taking damage early and coming back to win isn't a foreign concept to Cerrone. He's been there before, and he proved he can still go there when necessary. By the end of the first frame he was firing back at Lawler:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
Now it's @CowboyCerrone's turn to land big shots at #UFC214! https://t.co/UUbYGRDxxS2017-7-30 02:46:22
The second round was clearly a five-minute stretch in Cerrone's favor. The Cowboy put together impressive kickboxing combinations, while Lawler's output was significantly slowed.
That set up a third round before which each fighter clearly had one frame. Both worked hard to take the fight, but Lawler landed the cleaner, more powerful shots, while Cerrone went for volume. The effective striking was why Patrick Wyman of The Washington Post scored the round for Ruthless:
Patrick Wyman @Patrick_Wyman
I have it 29-28 Lawler for the bigger shots in the first and third. This was elite MMA at the highest level, move and countermove. #UFC2142017-7-30 02:59:09
This was a fun bout that proved both fighters are still capable of putting on entertaining shows for the fans. Lawler might not be ready to jump back in the title picture, but he can still put together awesome scraps.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Jimi Manuwa was put on this card as insurance if anything were to happen with Jones or Cormier. That's as close as anyone can be to a title shot without actually having one.
It's safe to say UFC 214 significantly hurt his stock. Volkan Oezdemir quickly put an end to any thoughts of Manuwa's being the next contender in the light heavyweight division. As ESPN Stats & Info noted, it's becoming a bit of a trend:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Volkan Oezdemir is now 3-0 in the UFC despite being an underdog each time. It's his 2nd straight win inside of a minute. #UFC214 https://t.co/Snyi4dBKX62017-7-30 02:25:08
The fight only lasted 42 seconds, so there isn't much to analyze other than the fact that the beating started with Oezdemir backed up by Manuwa against the fence. The fact that the Swiss fighter can turn that position into a knockout win speaks volumes about the 27-year-old's potential.
No Time came into this bout ranked fifth in the division. He's only three fights into his UFC career, but a win like this could put him on the fast track to the title. He even called out the winner of the Jones-Cormier main event, per MMA Fighting:
Oezdemir: I want the winner of tonight’s bout for sure. #UFC2142017-7-30 02:24:47
That's probably wishful thinking at this point. He needs at least one more fight to both build more name recognition and gain some fight experience before getting the opportunity to win a belt.
But he should be the favorite for the first time in his UFC career next time he puts the gloves on.