Jon Jones lands a punch on Daniel Cormier. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

It was a fight more than two years in the making and it finally happened Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones finally had their rematch, and once again, it went Jones’s way. After all the addiction issues, legal trouble and doping drama, Jones is once again the UFC light heavyweight champion.

“It feels unbelievable,” the 30-year-old said after the fight. It’s a surreal moment. I know it hasn’t been easy to root for me. I love you guys so much.”

Cormier, meanwhile, broke down in tears in the Octagon after the fight ended abruptly following two solid rounds, one of which definitely appeared to go Cormier’s way. But after holding his own, Jones caught him in the third round with a kick to the head, elbows and knees before the referee stopped the fight.

“I thought the fight was going well,” Cormier said in the cage afterward. “I don’t even know what happened.”

Cormier, who had been looking forward to a trilogy with Jones, appeared to give up on that dream.

“If you win both fights, I guess there isn’t a rivalry,” the 38-year-old said.

Indeed, it does appear that way as Jones put his personal beef with Cormier, who taunted him during the fight, aside to comfort his former foe before looking toward a future that may not involve Cormier. Instead, Jones called out Cormier’s friend and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

“Lesnar, if you want to know what it’s like to get your [butt] kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the Octagon,” Jones said, echoing calls he made earlier this week to fight Lesnar at a higher weight class.

Time will tell if Jones gets what he wants, but it’s clear that he is once again king of the division he ruled for four years before he temporarily fell out of favor after testing positive for cocaine and banned substances and getting into a serious car accident that landed him in trouble with the law.

“It’s never over,” Jones said after his victory Saturday. “As long as you never quit, it’s never over.”

Jones’s and Cormier’s fight made up for a lackluster penultimate event, which saw Tyron Woodley retain the welterweight title over Demian Maia in a rather action-starved five-round snoozer that ended in a unanimous decision.

The women’s featherweight title bout went as expected, with heavy favorite Cris “Cyborg” Justino beating Tonya Evinger with a TKO. The only surprise, perhaps, was that Evinger lasted into the third round. That hasn’t happened since 2013 for anyone against Cyborg.

The rest of the UFC 214 main card delivered excellent action, too. Former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler put on a smart, veteran performance to take a razor-thin fight over action fighter extraordinaire Donald Cerrone, while Volkan Oezdemir defeated Jimi Manuwa with a flurry of punches just seconds into Round 1.

For more details on how everything shook out, read on for round-by-round analysis.

Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier via TKO (head kick, punches, elbows), Round 3, 3:01

Cormier gave everything he had, and it still wasn’t enough. Jones took his best shots and played the long game, wearing him down with shots to the legs and body before looking to end it with a head kick. The second Cormier wobbled, Jones brutalized him with a reminder that he’s still the best ground striker in the sport. This might be it for Cormier; that was a crushing loss. For Jones, he’s the once and future king, and could defend his title or challenge at heavyweight. He’s either the greatest of all time or something close to it, and he showed how and why one more time.

Round 1: Jones opens up with kicks to stick Cormier at range and eats a few right hands the first time they clinch. Jones briefly trips Cormier to the mat but can’t maintain control. Cormier tries to pressure and close the distance, but Jones’s sense of the range is too good. There’s no sign of ring rust despite the 15-month layoff for the former champion. Cormier maintains a closer range than he did in the first fight, but instead of eating kicks, he’s absorbing straight punches and hooks in the pocket. Jones is working the body with punches and knees, which will drain Cormier’s tank in the later rounds. Cormier is hanging tough and fighting smart, throwing kicks of his own – this means that he’s not conceding kicking distance to Jones, which is important for him to score enough to be competitive on the scorecards. His low kicks especially are looking hard. Cormier catches Jones with a nice combination and backs him to the fence. Unlike the first fight, his pressure is much more effective this time. Another hard right hook lands for Cormier. He’s finishing his combinations with low kicks, which is a great move. Razor-thin round, but 10-9 Jones.

Round 2: Jones opens up in the middle of the cage, trying to maintain his range. Cormier is jabbing and working combinations as he enters the pocket to give Jones something to think about, and he’s countering every time Jones throws something in range. Cormier’s sharp here. His jab is doing good work, so are his kicks. This is giving him options at long range that he didn’t have in the first fight. He’s so much more comfortable pressuring, too, and isn’t giving Jones space and time to reset after throwing. Cormier is talking to Jones now, taunting him when he misses shots.

They’re fighting in the clinch and DC is winning these exchanges now. All of the momentum is running toward Cormier. The question is whether Cormier can maintain this pace into the later rounds, because Jones is still landing to the legs and body. 10-9 Cormier and 19-19 overall.

Round 3: Jones opens up by going to work on Cormier’s legs and body. He’s looking sharper here, especially with his footwork; his pivots were slow and imprecise early, and now he’s getting out of range easily after throwing. Cormier is chasing a bit more now instead of cutting off Jones’ lateral movement. The question was whether Cormier would be able to maintain his pace as the fight wore on, and right now, the answer is trending toward no. Jones wobbles Cormier with a flush high kick and pounces with punches and elbows on the ground. John McCarthy pulls Jones off a dazed, stunned Cormier. Jon Jones is once again the UFC light heavyweight champion.

Rosie Perez is into it.

Also, just for the record, here’s how the two came to the ring. Jones danced.

Cormier jogged.

Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)


Tyron Woodley outfought Demian Maia amid raucous boos in Anaheim. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Woodley may be walking away with the belt again, but he didn’t win himself any new fans with that performance. Here’s the conundrum: He may think he’s fighting the safest possible fight, but at some point, either finishing your opponent or convincingly winning rounds is actually safer than going to razor-thin, five-round decisions over and over again. He’ll probably face Georges St-Pierre next, and he’ll either knock the Canadian’s block off or lose a one-sided decision on points.

Maia at least won over the crowd by walking out to “Numb” by Linkin Park, his regular walkout song.

Round 1: Maia immediately looks to back Woodley toward the fence and right away shoots for a takedown. Maia’s chain is gorgeous and nearly gets Woodley down, but can’t quite get there. He backs Woodley up again, but again, no dice on the takedown, and the same a third time. Woodley is letting Maia back him up, which is giving Maia opportunities to shoot his takedowns. Woodley narrowly avoids another one by grabbing the fence. The southpaw Maia tries a left hand but eats a counter right in return. Maia is trying to take a little breather and lets up on the pressure, and Woodley really isn’t generating much offense of his own. An open-space takedown attempt from Maia goes nowhere; Woodley’s takedown defense is on point early. Woodley is throwing next to nothing of his own, though. 10-9 Woodley, perhaps.

Round 2: Maia opens up with pressure, but Woodley backs him off with a hard right hand. Woodley finally lands the counter right hand he’s been trying to time all fight and knocks Maia down as he pressures.

It doesn’t keep him there, however and now Woodley’s stalking Maia, but eats a sharp left hand from the Brazilian. Maia looks tired and has little drive on his takedown attempts. Woodley is icy cold and calm. He’s still not throwing much, but the momentum has clearly turned. Maia is looking a bit gun-shy of Woodley’s substantial power, and understandably. He’s still trying to pressure, though, and gets a good level change and takedown going against the fence. Woodley is so strong and skilled, though, that he just shucks Maia off. It’s almost contemptuous at this point. Still, Woodley isn’t throwing much. He’s not accruing damage and he’s relying on the appearance of big shots to convince the judges he’s winning. It’s a smart performance from Woodley, but while it seems safe, these rounds are actually pretty close. 10-9 Woodley for the knockdown and 20-18 overall.

Meanwhile, retired NFL star Michael Irvin coming strong with the analysis.

Round 3: Maia tries to pressure again early, but Woodley’s doing a good job of keeping his lead hand active to gauge the distance and keep Maia away. Woodley’s right hand is quick and powerful; it’s the centerpiece of his game plan, especially the counter, and it’s working. Woodley’s getting a bit more active now, looking to land at a higher clip. Maia appears to be out of ideas at this point. He’s trying to pressure, looking for his left hand, timing his level change and takedown when Woodley comes forward, but none of it is working in the slightest. 10-9 Woodley again.

Fans are getting restless, too, as they await more action.

Round 4: Woodley is starting to get a jab going as Maia pressures. Yet another takedown attempt from Maia goes nowhere. To be honest, this isn’t an exciting fight, and the dynamics haven’t much changed: Woodley uses the fence, or grabs it, in order to stuff Maia’s takedowns when he pressures, and then he tries to land a counter right when Maia comes in on him. Woodley could stand to throw more; at this point, he’s only throwing around five or six strikes per minute, an absurdly low offensive output. If Woodley let his hands go in open space and threw combinations, he would have a great chance of finishing. 10-9 Woodley again, 40-36 in total.

Round 5: Maia gets in deep on a double-leg to open the round but can’t finish as Woodley showcases his exceptional defensive wrestling skills. Maia is doing what he’s supposed to here in terms of pressure and timing his shots, but Woodley’s takedown defense is just too good. “We’re going to shatter the record for fewest total strikes landed in a welterweight title fight,” says Jon Anik. “That’s not a record you want to break,” Joe Rogan replies. The fight is somehow even less exciting than those descriptions make it sound. There’s no reason, this deep into the fifth round, for Woodley to be giving Maia this much respect. Woodley looks up at the clock; he’s not far from the only one desperately praying for the final bell to sound. 10-9 Maia on aggression, 49-46 Woodley overall.

Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger via TKO, Round 3, 1:56


Tonya Evinger held her own till Round 3. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

That was a near-perfect performance from Cris Cyborg. It’s not just that she’s stronger, faster, and more powerful than her opponents; she’s also slicker, more technical, and has more weapons in her toolbox. If there’s a better fighter in all of women’s MMA, I don’t know who it is. To her credit, Evinger hung tough, but she would’ve needed an act of divine intervention to beat the version of Cyborg who showed up tonight. Evinger is still an elite bantamweight, though, and deserves to hang around in the UFC. As for Cyborg, maybe Holly Holm would get her to break a sweat.

Round 1: After coming out to a Portuguese version of the Christian ballad “Holy Spirit,” which temporarily threw fans off, Cyborg hits Evinger with the first punch she throws, a slick counter left hook.

But Evinger stays up! She’s working a nice jab, but gets tagged hard and backs up to the fence. Evinger, rocked, pulls guard, but Cyborg lets her up. Cyborg is picking her shots carefully, maintaining a steady distance and avoiding Evinger’s rushes. Every time Cyborg lands, it moves Evinger. Evinger is game thus far; she’s throwing heat and looking for takedowns. Briefly, Evinger gets Cyborg to the mat, then a second time, but can’t hold her there. Cyborg lands a big knee on the way up. This is smart from Evinger — she’s putting herself in position to grind against the fence and look for takedowns, where Cyborg can’t hurt her as easily. It could pay off later in the fight if she can drain Cyborg’s tank. An eye poke from Evinger briefly stops the action, but Cyborg says she’s fine and gets back to pressuring. She’s eating up Evinger’s legs with low kicks, something that could pay off later if she does enough damage. Big combination from Cyborg, and Evinger buys time by clinching. A counter right hand lands from Cyborg, then a head kick. Evinger is getting beat up against the fence and Cyborg is exploiting her side-to-side head movement by trying to catch her with kicks. A vicious right hand lands for Cyborg and then a knee as the round ends. 10-9, maybe 10-8, for Cyborg.

P.S. Check out the referee’s beard.

Round 2: Cyborg is doing a great job of maintaining distance, and in that vein, she starts the round with a series of low kicks and jabs. Evinger is turning her head as she tries to escape the pressure and Cyborg is going to catch her with something big if she keeps doing that. Cyborg’s forward movement is crisp and technical; she’s backing Evinger up at will and maintaining the initiative, which allows her to set the distance and pick and choose her leads and counters. Slick stuff. Evinger lands a right hand as she’s backing up but Cyborg stays on her, landing a few punches and a knee in return. The counters are the story of the second round; Cyborg has Evinger’s timing and range, and she’s more comfortable staying close, seeing Evinger’s shots coming, and firing back with a few of her own. Evinger’s got an insane chin on her; she’s eaten big, flush punches and kicks from Cyborg. To Cyborg’s credit, though, she’s still measured; she’s not loading up or wasting energy. 10-9, maybe 10-8 again, to Cyborg. 20-18 at worst for Cyborg.

Round 3: Cyborg looks fresh to start the third, and she gets right back on the horse with the pressure. A hard right hand lands flush for Cyborg, then she grazes her with a head kick, then a combination drops Evinger to the mat. This is getting ugly. Even Cyborg’s body jabs are landing hard. She backs Evinger up to the fence and goes to work in the clinch with a series of knees that plant Evinger on the mat once and for all, and the referee steps in to stop the fight.

Meanwhile, Jon Jones is backstage looking a little nervous. Or maybe just excited.

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Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)


Robbie Lawler readies to hit Donald Cerrone during their welterweight bout. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

That was a razor-thin fight and a great example of what MMA has to offer as a sport. Cerrone put together the best technical performance of his career and came up just shy, while Lawler used every ounce of his considerable veteran savvy to make adjustments and find ways to land shots and take rounds. Cerrone has now lost two in a row, but it doesn’t much matter; he’s a fan favorite and a big name, so he’ll get fun fights. As for Lawler, another title run may happen, but he’s a shoe-in for interesting matchups.

NASCAR star Kevin Harvick must be a little bummed…

This fan might be happy, though, after converting to a Lawler fan thanks to his adept walkout song choice of “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash.

Round 1: Lawler opens up on fire, blasting Cerrone with a barrage of punches, knees, and elbows in the clinch. He’s sticking to Cerrone like glue and not letting him establish his preferred long distance.

Cerrone survives the flurry, though, and gets his range. Lawler dives into the clinch again. This is smart; he’s bigger and stronger, and the closer they are, the more Lawler’s power will tell. Lawler’s pressure is relentless. Cerrone is competitive in the clinch, but long-term, those battles don’t favor him. Lawler is doing a great job of landing short shots inside. Cerrone shoots a slick takedown as Lawler comes forward and manages to get the strong defensive wrestler to the mat. Cerrone is staying busy on top and passes to side control, but Lawler times his explosion perfectly. Back on the feet, Cerrone stumbles Lawler with an elbow in the clinch and then grazes him with a high kick. As the round ends, it’s Cerrone pressuring. 10-9 Lawler by a hair in a great first round.

Round 2: Cerrone seems looser, like he’s found his range and timing, and Lawler isn’t as aggressive as the second round opens. Cerrone is getting his kicking game going early, then launches a nice, fluid punching combination. This is his range. Lawler gets into the clinch again, and Cerrone has that nice elbow waiting for him. The momentum is trending in Cerrone’s direction. Cerrone is doing a fantastic job of disguising his kicks, mixing up the timing and level after flashing his hands. Lawler is looking a bit flummoxed here; he’s a bit too far outside and Cerrone isn’t afraid of his power anymore. Cerrone launches a beautiful sequence, going from a feinted takedown to a knee to a kick on the break. Gorgeous stuff, and Lawler doesn’t have any answers at the moment. More slick combinations from Cowboy follow. To his credit, though, Lawler is calm and collected as he heads back to his corner. 10-9 Cerrone in the second and 19-19 overall.

Round 3: Lawler comes out hot again. He’s firing off kicks, trying to take away that distance from Cerrone. He’s pressuring again, but this time, Cerrone is the one winning the clinch exchanges. Lawler, it seems, gave away the second round to have the gas to attack hard in the third. While Cerrone has done a good job of throwing combinations, Lawler’s high guard and active parries have made it really difficult to hit him cleanly to the head. More kicks from Lawler as he looks to press Cerrone backward. A big combination lands for Lawler, but Cerrone takes the shots well and returns fire. He’s not as hard a puncher, but he’s not letting Lawler get away with planting his feet and throwing. This is the most mature technical performance of Cerrone’s career, just gorgeous stuff from him. Instead of diving into the clinch, Lawler has adjusted by backstepping and throwing short, tight combinations in the pocket. This is move and countermove at the highest level. With 20 seconds left, Lawler is attacking hard, letting everything go with big pressure and combinations. Cerrone fires back and both men raise their hands in victory. Great fight. 10-9 to Lawler in the third and 29-28 to him overall on our card.

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram likes this fight so much he’s watching it on two screens.

Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa via TKO (punches), Round 1, 42 seconds


Volkan Oezdemir takes aim at Jimmy Manuwa during their light heavyweight bout. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Well, that’s one way to start a UFC card. Oezdemir landed a couple of short shots in the clinch that rocked Manuwa, and then pursued him relentlessly, eventually planting a flush left hook on him and then finishing on the mat. This makes it three in a row for Oezdemir, who apparently has big power in his hands to go along with a great pace and excellent technical skills on the feet. There’s really nobody else available to fight for the title against the winner of tonight’s main event, and Oezdemir is fresh blood in a division that has been dominated by the same fighters for the last half decade. Why not? It should be fun.

Also, maybe Manuwa’s should’ve chosen some different walkout music…

Well, at least WWE superstar Cesaro is happy!

And maybe comedian Hannibal Buress.

On another note, the title contenders are in the building in Anaheim. THIS IS HAPPENING!

Plus, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s in the house!

Here’s the full card.

MAIN CARD RESULTS

  • Jon Jones def. Daniel Cormier via TKO (head kick, punches, elbows), Round 3, 3:01
  • Tyron Woodley def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
  • Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger via TKO, Round 3, 1:56
  • Robbie Lawler def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Volkan Oezdemir def. Jimi Manuwa via TKO (punches), Round 1, 42 seconds

PRELIMS RECAP

UFC 214 kicked off with a strong slate of preliminary action on FXX and UFC Fight Pass that delivered both action and relevance in equal measure.

Brian Ortega announced himself as a true featherweight contender with a come-from-behind submission win over fellow undefeated up-and-comer Renato Moicano. Longtime prospect Aljamain Sterling broke through into the elite with the biggest win of his career. He overcame a tough stylistic matchup in former bantamweight champion Renan Barao, beating up Barao on the ground and edging it on the feet. In the main event on FXX, former title contender Ricardo Lamas staked his claim for another shot at the top with a vicious finish of the rising Jason Knight.

PRELMIS RESULTS

  • Ricardo Lamas def. Jason Knight via TKO, Round 1, 4:34
  • Aljamain Sterling def. Renan Barao via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
  • Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano via submission (guillotine choke) Round 3, 2:59
  • Calvin Kattar def. Andre Fili via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

EARLY PRELIMS RESULTS

  • Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Jarred Brooks def. Eric Shelton via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman via KO, Round 1, 3:04

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