Jon Jones defeats Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 on Saturday.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jon Jones reclaimed his UFC light heavyweight title Saturday night, stopping Daniel Cormier in the third round with a vicious head kick and a finish on the ground at UFC 214.
Jones (23-1) completed his rocky journey back to the top after a yearlong suspension 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 dealt with self-inflicted setbacks outside the cage.
After 21/2 rounds of even, high-level striking, Jones landed a 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.
“It’s never over,” Jones said of his long road back. “As long as you’ve got a pulse, it’s never over.”
Jones was widely considered the world’s top pound-forpound mixed martial artist while he held the belt for nearly four years from 2011-2015. He beat Cormier by clear decision in their first bout in January 2015, but had fought just one time since.
In contrast to the combative nature of their public dialogue over the past three years, Jones praised Cormier afterward.
“I want to thank Daniel for being my biggest rival and my biggest motivator,” Jones said. “He has no reason to be ashamed. He has been a model champion. I aspire to be a lot more like that man, because he’s an amazing human being.”
Earlier, Cris “Cyborg” Justino became a UFC champion for the first time at Honda Center, 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.