Jon Jones re­claims ti­tle at UFC 214

Light heavy­weight stops Cormier in the third round

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - GREG BEACHAM

ANA­HEIM, CALIF. Jon Jones reached the pin­na­cle of mixed mar­tial arts and then fell harder than just about any­one had be­fore.

When he got back on top Satur­day night by stop­ping his great­est ri­val in dra­matic style, Jones vowed to appreciate ev­ery­thing he had lost and re­gained.

Jones re­claimed his UFC light heavy­weight ti­tle by stop­ping Daniel Cormier in the third round with a vi­cious head kick and a fin­ish on the ground at UFC 214, com­plet­ing his rocky jour­ney back to the top after two and a half years of drama with his 14th con­sec­u­tive vic­tory.

He fended off a stiff chal­lenge from Cormier (19-2), who held the belt for most of the past two years while Jones (23-1) dealt with self­in­flicted set­backs out­side the cage. His ti­tle belt has been stripped twice, and he en­dured a year-long sus­pen­sion for a dop­ing test fail­ure be­fore re­turn­ing to beat Cormier for the sec­ond time.

“I feel like I’m leav­ing my past be­hind me and I’m eras­ing ev­ery­thing I’ve done be­fore,” Jones said. “I feel like this is a step to a new ca­reer, a new cham­pi­onship, and I want to be a bet­ter cham­pion than I was in the past.”

After two and a half rounds of even, high-level strik­ing, Jones landed a left head kick that caught Cormier lean­ing in. The cham­pion stag­gered back­ward and then around the cage with Jones in pur­suit, and Jones fin­ished the fight on the ground with a se­ries of mer­ci­less strikes.

Jones was widely con­sid­ered the world’s top pound-for-pound mixed mar­tial artist while he held the belt for nearly four years from 2011 to 2015. He beat Cormier by clear de­ci­sion in their first bout in January 2015, but had fought just one time since.

Jones lost his belt in early 2015 for his in­volve­ment in a hit-an­drun in­ci­dent in which a preg­nant woman’s arm was bro­ken. In July 2016, Jones was pulled from a re­match with Cormier for his drug test fail­ure.

Ear­lier, Cris (Cy­borg) Justino be­came a UFC cham­pion for the first time, stop­ping Tonya Evinger in the third round to win the va­cant feath­er­weight belt. Ty­ron Wood­ley also de­fended his wel­ter­weight ti­tle with a clear de­ci­sion over Demian Maia, thor­oughly frus­trat­ing the Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu master in a fight that drew loud boos from the Honda Cen­ter crowd.

For­mer wel­ter­weight cham­pion Rob­bie Lawler squeaked out a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion vic­tory over Don­ald (Cowboy) Cer­rone in an­other com­pelling matchup on the UFC’s most stacked card of the sum­mer.

Jones’s next op­po­nent for the 205-pound belt could be Swiss sen­sa­tion Volkan Oezdemir, who kicked off the show with a 22-sec­ond knock­out of Bri­tain’s Jimi Manuwa.

After Oezdemir got the Ana­heim fans on their feet with a vi­cious first-round stop­page for his fifth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory, Lawler (28-11) and Cer­rone (32-9) kept them up with an en­ter­tain­ing three-round strik­ing ex­hi­bi­tion. Notes: UFC boss Dana White said Canada’s Ge­orges St-Pierre will fight mid­dleweight cham­pion Michael Bisp­ing for his ex­pected November re­turn.

Jon Jones

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