Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier, UFC 182, 3 January 2015
After Quinton Rampage Jackson defeated Chuck Liddell at UFC 52 in May 2007, the UFC Light Heavyweight division became one of the most competitive weight classes in the UFC. The Light Heavyweight belt bounced from one tried and true champion to another with each champion holding the position for less than a year.
Rampage Jackson was defeated by Forrest Griffin by leg kicks. Rashad Evans defeated Forrest Griffin via TKO. Lyoto Machida then defeated Rashad Evans via TKO. Finally Shogun Rua defeated Lyoto for the belt on the second try.
Then comes the 23 year old Jon Jones. Coming up the rankings, Jon Jones handily defeated every single Light Heavyweight contender the UFC threw at him. Brandon Vera, Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko, Ryan Bader…He defeated the beloved MMA super star Shogun Rua to become the Light Heavyweight Champion. As champion Jon Jones put away every single Light Heavyweight champion fight fans grew up with and held as heroes. Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort. Jon Jones further established his name in MMA history with one of the best fights ever against Alexander Gustafsson.
Its taken me almost 4 years to come to terms and accept Jon Jones as likely, the best Light Heavyweight fighter of all time.
In April 2015, Jon Jones was stripped of his belt due to his involvement with a hit and run incident. Outside of the cage, Jon Jones social behavior had become increasingly questionable. His habits and his social life was not exactly something to be expected of a champion, a husband, and a responsible father.
In Jon Jones’s absence, the Light Heavyweight championship was up for grabs between the three most qualified contenders at the time. Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, and Anthony Johnson.
Daniel Cormier was the last person to fight Jon Jones before Jon was stripped of the belt. Leading up to Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier, Daniel built the fight by talking about his passion for fighting, his unrelenting competitive nature, and his hardcore, no frills, tiring fighting style which he came to call “embracing the grind”. Daniel Cormier could likely be the most qualified contender. He was the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion with wins over MMA legends like Jeff Monson, Antonio Big Foot Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, and Roy Nelson. In some ways, Daniel Cormier could be considered the Jon Jones of the Heavyweight division.
When Daniel Cormier entered the cage with Jon Jones. He no longer seemed to be the passionate, hardcore, grinding fighter he sold himself to be. He could hardly take Jon Jones down but instead the Olympic wrestler was taken down by Jon Jones! Jon fought an intelligent fight, capitalizing on his reach advantage. He kept the dirty boxing wrestler at bay and neutralizing Daniel’s game plan.
On the 23rd of May 2015, after Jon Jones was stripped of his title, Daniel defeated Anthony Johnson to become the 13th UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. In October, he defended his title against Alexander Gustafsson. A tall and rangey fighter with excellent boxing and footwork.
It’s difficult for me to accept Daniel Cormier as the true Light Heavyweight Champion knowing that he couldn’t beat Jon Jones and that Jones is likely to return to the cage in 2016. But then again, Cormier defeated Gustafsson, a tall fighter with the reach advantage who was the closest ever to defeating Jon Jones. Does this mean that Daniel has been able to adapt his style and adjust to taller fighters? Fight fans eagerly await the rematch Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier 2. In the mean time lets enjoy Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier 1.
Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier full fight video