UFC 182 Rewind: Jones tops Cormier in a thriller

Published on Wednesday, 1/7/15, at 10:26 a.m. Eastern. 

Jon Jones hooked up his gambling supporters as a favorite in the -200 range.

Jon Jones hooked up his gambling supporters as a favorite in the -180 range.

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones once again retained his light-heavyweight belt Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena, beating Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier by unanimous decision (49-46 on all three cards) as a -180 favorite in the main event of UFC 182.

The action was fast and furious in the first three rounds. Both men set an unbelievable pace, taking it to each other in a close opening round. Jones used his ridiculous array of kicks to hammer Cormier to the legs and the body. Cormier kept closing the distance, though, and had a lot of success with right hooks in the dirty-boxing exchanges. But as DC would say after the fight, there was a big knee to the body from Jones that hurt him in the first round.

Cormier had his most success in Round 2. Again, the right uppercut was finding a home and he backed Jones up with a number of strikes. The stanza was close, to be sure, as Jones was countering with that short, slick elbow from tight range that was so effective in Atlanta against Rashad Evans. With that said, everyone gave the second round to Cormier, who had more energy and landed more strikes.

The third round seemed to be going Jones’s way, only for the momentum to shift midway through thanks to some big right hands from the challenger. As I watched it, I felt Jones was moving slower or, maybe, playing possum a little bit.

Whatever the case, as it turned out, Jones had more gas left in the tank. He had landed a quick takedown in the first round, the first allowed by Cormier in his mixed martial arts career. Jones got back-to-back takedowns in the fourth, and he did so with relative ease. They seemed to tire Cormier both physically and mentally.

As UFC analyst Joe Rogan noted, it was as if Cormier knew the round was lost and was saving himself for the fifth. Indeed, Cormier came out strong in the last round. However, whatever momentum he developed in the first 30-45 seconds of the stanza, Jones killed it by wrapping him up  in the clinch and stuffing multiple takedown attempts.

Referee Herb Dean, who is considered the best in the business, had a bad round. He had endless opportunities to separate the fighters, who basically spent more  than four minutes clinching and not throwing punches. Again, Rogan noted  that Cormier seemed to be using every ounce of energy to get a takedown just for a moral victory.

And he finally got that takedown, lifting Jones above his head and slamming him to the canvas. It appeared that Jones briefly grabbed the top of the fence (another advantage provided by his insane length) to halt Cormier’s momentum going into the slam. This one didn’t resemble the one given to Dan Henderson in Cormier’s last bout, though.

Jones braced for his fall and hopped right back up. They remained clinching until about five seconds left in the fight. At that point, Jones let go of Cormier and raised his hands in the air to celebrate. For some reason, Cormier let go of his grip rather than throwing a haymaker or two before the bell.

When he did so, it was Jones that threw a punch, prompting an exchange by both men that only ended after the bell with Dean getting grazed by a Cormier strike. Jones went to the microphone and talked out of both sides of his mouth.

The champ rubbed it in but simultaneously apologized for being  “classless because I don’t like DC.” The ‘over’ (4.5 rounds – even money) was a winner.

In the co-main event, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone handed Myles Jury his first career loss  by earning his sixth consecutive win by unanimous decision (30-27 three times). The price on Cerrone came down at a lot of books on Saturday, dipping as low as -125 at some spots. He closed -160 at most places and was around -200 in the weeks leading up to the fight.

A frustrated 'Cowboy' Cerrone literally kicked Myles Jury's ass repeatedly in the final seconds of the third round.

A frustrated ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone literally kicked Myles Jury’s ass repeatedly in the final seconds of the third round.

Cerrone was able to defend Jury’s attempt to immediately get the fight on the ground in the opening round. ‘Cowboy’ flipped the position and kept control of Jury on the canvas the entire stanza. He was nearly able to lock on a rear-naked choke that got tight and had him in trouble, but Jury was able to slip out.

In the second and third rounds, Cerrone dominated the exchanges on the feet. He took Jury down with less than 20 seconds remaining and then popped back up to his feet. Then Cerrone unleashed a violent flurry of kicks to Jury’s legs and the body. He threw these kicks with reckless abandon all the way to the bell.

After the fight, he told the crew at Fox Sports that he was trying to break Jury’s leg or have his own broken to make up for a boring performance.

Brad Tavares looked outstanding in running through Nate ‘The Great’ Marquardt in a middleweight scrap. Tavares peppered Marquardt with heavy leg kicks throughout the bout, causing bad swelling to the former Strikeforce welterweight champ’s right leg.

Tavares ended a two-fight losing streak by capturing a unanimous-decision win at a -115 price. The ‘over’ (1.5 rounds, -180) was an easy winner.

In the pay-per-view opener, Hector Lombard won by UD over Josh Burkman, who was making his return to the Octagon for the first time since UFC 90. Burkman hung tough in Round 1, countering Lombard with a unique set of strikes from all angles.

But Lombard was too much in the second and third rounds, yet he couldn’t get a finish. The judges gave it to the former Bellator champ with 30-27 scores from two judges and one 29-28.

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