ANAHEIM, Calif. – The king reclaimed his throne on Saturday.
Jon Jones, who only lost his title because of his inability to control his life outside of the Octagon, stopped Daniel Cormier at 3:01 of the third round at UFC 214 to regain his spot atop the roost before a sell-out crowd at the Honda Center.
Widely regarded as the greatest MMA fighter in history, Jones caught Cormier with a kick to the neck that set up the finishing sequence and ended their bitter rivalry 2-0 in his favor.
“I made it back, man!” Jones said after going to the canvas in celebration after it was over.
After Jones hit Cormier, Cormier staggered away. Jones hit Cormier with a knee and Cormier went to the ground. Jones followed him and landed several punches and elbows before referee John McCarthy stopped it.
Cormier won the title in Jones’ absence and made himself one of the sport’s elite fighters. But as great as he is, he couldn’t handle Jones.
“If you win both fights, there is no rivalry,” a disappointed Cormier, fighting back tears, said after the defeat.
Cormier was much more competitive on Saturday, fighting at a better distance and landing several big shots. But at the end of the day, Jones was able to come up with the big move when he needed it.
He tried his best to end the bitterness that had marked their rivalry with his post-fight comments.
“I want to take this time to thank D.C. for being my biggest rival and motivator,” Jones said.
But he may have his eye on a newer, much bigger rival. Rumors broke last week that former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar might consider a return to the UFC.
While it is unlikely considering Lesnar is on a suspension and has filed retirement papers, Jones did his best to keep the momentum going.
“Brock Lesnar, if you want to get your ass kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the Octagon,” Jones shouted as the fans erupted.
Heavyweight makes a lot of sense for the 6-foot-4 Jones, who has been asked frequently about the possibility of going to fight the big boys.
A bout with champion Stipe Miocic would do big business, and a match against Lesnar would seem to be a slam dunk to do over 2 million pay-per-view buys.
Jones has the frame and the length to make himself an elite heavyweight. He’s handled everything that has been thrown at him and there is no one now who is remotely in his class.
Cormier was making it a fight until Jones came out of nowhere with that fight-ending kick.
“I thought the fight was going well, and then I got kicked in the head,” Cormier said. “I’m so disappointed.”
Jones won the rivalry emphatically and now should move on to, if not better, at least bigger things.
More UFC 214 coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Boo birds come out as Tyron Woodley defends welterweight belt
• Cyborg finally wins vacated UFC women’s featherweight title
• Best trash talk exchanges between Cormier and Jones
• Why Tyron Woodley is ‘The Rock’ of the UFC