At UFC 182, Jon Jones faced one of the toughest tests of his prolific mixed martial arts career in Daniel Cormier. After fighting five hard rounds, Jones came out with the victory, leaving no doubt that he is the greatest light heavyweight fighter of all time and making a strong case for greatest fighter of all time.
Throughout the fight, Cormier showed perseverance and championship grit that truly tested Jones. Most of the contest was fought “in a phone booth,” which is to say close and personal. This was more because Cormier needed to be that close to Jones to mount any semblance of an effective offense since the champ had a 12-inch reach advantage over Cormier and used his leg kicks very well.
It was a dogfight for nearly the entire 25 minutes, and there were a few pivotal moments that changed the course of the fight. There were plenty of hard shots and significant strikes landed by both men throughout the fight, but none of them really changed the direction of the contest. Both men have great striking resiliency, and they did not seem affected by any shot landed by the other.
Most of the defining moments of the fight came in the struggle for grappling supremacy, which was a constant theme of this fight. Cormier avoided the unorthodox strikes that Jones has shown in the past, and Jones used his reach to avoid Cormier’s striking from distance, keeping the fight mostly standing.
Cormier Suffers His First Takedown in MMA
There was no feeling-out process in this fight. Cormier immediately attempted to get inside the reach of Jones and avoided a few hard kicks thrown by the champ. Cormier threw a left kick to the body, which was caught by Jones, allowing the champ to trip Cormier and, within the first minute of the fight, become the first person to take DC down in MMA.
The challenger got right back to his feet and kept up the pressure on Jones, but the sting of being taken down so quickly put the momentum on the side of Jones very early on in the fight.
DC Takes Round 2
Towards the end of the first frame, Cormier started to find a bit of rhythm in getting past the arms and legs of Jones. The second round gave us his best offerings in the fight, as he worked hard in the clinch to tag the champ with uppercuts and punches to the body. He even landed a hard body kick in the final minute and briefly had the champion staggering.
Two of the three judges scored the close second round for Cormier, making it the only round he would officially win in the fight. This was a pivotal moment. After a solid first round for Jones, Cormier was able to make it a tie going into the third round and show glimpses of how to effectively negate the reach of Jones.
Jones’ Emphatic Takedowns in Round 4
A lot of the lead-up to this fight involved both men claiming they would be able to take the other one down in the fight. The most significant takedowns of the fight came in Round 4, when each fighter needed to pull ahead strongly, as the previous rounds were all very close and could have gone either way.
Cormier was exhausted going into the championship rounds, and about one minute into the fourth frame, Jones lifted DC off his feet against the fence for a big takedown. The challenger popped back up just to get taken down again.
Mike Goldberg commented right afterwards that the momentum of the fight was “rapidly rising for Jones,” and it was. This was the point where a Jones victory became likely. Cormier was tired, and getting dumped on his back twice was the mental setback that allowed Jones to pull ahead in the fight.
Cormier’s Last-Minute Takedown
Joe Rogan said in the final round that Cormier was looking for a “moral victory” by continuing to try to take Jones down. It wouldn’t win him the fight, but he seemed to need to prove that on at least one front, he wouldn’t be completely outclassed.
With 53 seconds left in the 25-minute battle, Cormier picked Jones up and walked him towards the center for a big last-minute slam. Jones got right back up, but in that single moment when Cormier had Jones up off the ground, he was in charge. It was a very close fight, and Cormier was competitive throughout. As Cormier looks forward to the climb back towards title contention, he can at least say that he scored a takedown on the greatest fighter of all time.