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UFC 182 Results: Jon Jones Uses Title Fight to Prove a Point to Daniel Cormier

Jonathan Snowden@JESnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterJanuary 4, 2015

USA Today

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (21-1) is the best fighter in the world. If that was a controversial statement before he dispatched undefeated Olympian Daniel Cormier (15-1) by unanimous decision at UFC 182 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, it's surely a given afterward.

It wasn't just that Jones, 27, beat Cormier, 35, a top heavyweight who dropped down a weight class to avoid a collision with his teammate Cain Velasquez, the heavyweight kingpin. It was the way he beat Cormier, half athletic god and half message-board troll, his two sides working together to create a truly memorable night.

"I don't like Daniel Cormier," Jones, who won 49-46, 49-46, 49-46, said after the fight on Fox Sports 1. "I don't respect Daniel Cormier. I hope he's somewhere crying right now. I'm sure he is."

To understand the level of animus in UFC 182's main event, you have to understand how the two men ended up in the cage in the first place. It's the story of giant egos, wounded pride and transcendent talents.

The blood feud between Cormier and Jones began way back in 2010 at UFC 121 with a bold boast. Jones, developing a reputation as one of the best wrestlers in the Octagon, famously told the two-time Olympian, within seconds of meeting him mind you, that he believed he could take Cormier down to the mat.

Cormier was not amused. What followed was a tension that simmered for years before finally devolving to backstage scuffles, epic trash talk and even the casual toss of a shoe. But no matter how heated it became, it always came back to one thing: professional and athletic pride.

It's fitting, then, that when the two finally met in the cage, Jones provided his point emphatically, taking Cormier down three times en route to a demoralizing win. Cormier, when pushed against the cage, had no answer for the champion, a man he swore he'd make respect him.

"I just couldn't find my rhythm tonight," Cormier said after the fight. "Jon is the best for a reason, and he was the better man tonight."

Jones vs. Cormier By the Numbers
FighterSignificant StrikesPercentageTakedowns
Jon Jones92/17851%3/5
Daniel Cormier58/16535%1/8
Fight Metric

The storyline leading into the match was pretty simple. Jones would try to keep Cormier at a distance with his long legs and outrageous reach advantage (6'4" and 84.5" reach versus 5'11" and 72.5" reach). Cormier would try to close the distance and force Jones to fight him in the proverbial phone booth, opening Jones up to his Olympic-class wrestling.

But Jon Jones doesn't operate quite like other fighters. He seems to relish the challenge of another man at his very best. Beating Cormier by putting him at a disadvantage, though the name of the game for most fighters, isn't nearly as satisfying as beating him at his own game. 

That's decidedly what Jones did. Ducking down to make himself smaller, it was Jones who often initiated the clinch, pushing Cormier up against the cage and unleashing with his familiar knees to the body, elbows to the head and a brand-new sidekick to the leg.

When he closed the night with a quasi-cheap shot, raising his hands to celebrate in the final seconds before suddenly switching gears to pop Cormier one last time in mush, it was a fitting way to end a battle of wills that never approached classy. These were two men who didn't like each other, and it was Jones with the final chance to make that all too clear.

Damon Martin @DamonMartin

Well there's no question Jon Jones is the best there is but I would pay to see a rematch one day http://t.co/7F3nYS79Jp #UFC182

Appreciate what we have, fight fans. Unlike boxing, where top fighters twist themselves in pretzels to avoid facing a tough challenge, Jones not only seeks them out, he actively looks to make them just that little bit harder for himself.

There was no particular reason to meet Cormier where he lived and breathed. It's just that Jones thrives when he finds an angle, something that will make him train a little harder, to try a little harder, to push himself to his absolute limits. 

He found that something in Daniel Cormier. He beat his top challenger at his very best, at his own game. It's time for everyone in the sports world to take a long look at Jon Jones. This is what greatness looks like.

For Jones, the march into history continues. Already a clear first-ballot Hall of Famer, Jones is looking to create a legacy that transcends mixed martial arts. He wants his name to sit comfortably next to the true icons of the sports world. Kobe Bryant. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Jon Jones?

If that's possible, Jones is the man to do it. He finally understands that an athlete with his gifts, and the ego and drive that come with them, isn't going to be universally loved. He doesn't need to be. 

Next for Jones is the winner of the Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Johnson bout. For Cormier, the path to the top is less clear. Once again, just like in college and the Olympics, he's fallen short of the top. With his 36th birthday looming large in March, this might well have been his last chance. 

His saving grace, perhaps, will be the continuing animosity. Jones seemed to take great joy in Cormier's tears at the post-fight press conference, and the bad blood between the two obviously lingers.

If Cormier can win a couple of fights and re-establish himself in the division, this is a fight we could easily see again by the end of the year. It was a heck of a way to start the year in MMA. It would be a heck of a way to close it too.

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