UFC 214 was the perfect storm of championship wars and saw belts flying here there and everywhere as the UFC put three titles on the line at the weekend and pitched two of their top welterweights in what everybody hoped would be an echo of Lawler vs McDonald.
Without a doubt, the biggest fight of the night was the Light Heavyweight clash between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones – there have been few grudge matches in the UFC that have been smouldering as long as the bad blood between these two and the fight didn’t disappoint, with two back-and-forth rounds that could’ve gone either way for the judges.
Round three was shaping up to be more of the same, until Jones caught Cormier with a savage shin to the side of the head which set the big man reeling. Jones, sensing blood, pounced on DC and unleashed a battery of unanswered strikes to his head.
Big John McCarthy held off from ending the fight for as long as he safely could, but as soon as it was clear that Cormier was unable to respond, he called it for Jones.
Jon Jones was magnanimous in victory and praised his opponent, but the biggest surprise of his post fight interview was his reiteration of calling out of Brock Lesnar. At the press conferenct afterwards, Jones clarified his reason for wanting to fight a man who isn’t even currently signed to the UFC.
“I feel like if I was going to take a fight at heavyweight it would be against a person who me and my coaches feel makes sense for me. Right now, Stipe is looking extremely impressive. And I believe if you get an extremely talented big guy versus an extremely talented little guy, I feel like a lot of the cards are in his favor. I fear no man, but I strike for a reason when I strike. I feel like Stipe is relatively unknown to the general public. It wouldn’t even be a real superfight in my opinion. I think a lot of MMA fans would be super excited about, but the general public wouldn’t care about that fight. Most people don’t really know who is, with all due respect to him. If I’m going to sacrifice being the smaller guy, I think stylistically Brock would be a fight that makes way more sense, and the payday would be tremendous. What it would do for our sport would be tremendous. Much bigger impact.”
“Conor McGregor, he has been a tremendous inspiration to me. He has shown me, who has been at the upper echelon of this sport for many years now, he has shown me that these huge paydays are possible. I never thought in my time as champion that we would be able to see fighters making $70 million or whatever he’s making for this Mayweather fight. It’s an inspiration that you can do it. I see it as possible, and that’s what McGregor has done for me.”
It remains to see what will be next for Jones, but UFC 217 at Madison Square Gardens in New York is a likely venue for his first defence of his new belt. It’s unlikely at this point, whether it’ll be a superfight at Heavyweight, but there are no shortage of challengers at LHW, including Alexander Gustafsonn who tweeted, “Congrats Champ. Stop asking for retired fighters, I’ve been waiting to put my hands on you and so have all the fans.” He’s not wrong.
Meanwhile, Daniel Cormier, who had not released a statement following his devestating loss, took to social media to apologise to John McCarthy and acknowledge his opponent’s performance on the night. His upset at the loss had been clear to see for all when Joe Rogan, uncharacteristically, chose to interview DC while he was still reeling from the KO.
Cormier posted the following via instagram; “First off, thank you all for the kind words. I have felt the support. Congratulations to Jon Jones and his team. They did a phenomenal job and got the victory. Also, to Big John McCarthy, I would like to apologize for acting up with you. I am thankful for the time you gave me to try and defend myself and stay in the fight. You are the best in the business for a reason. I also wanna thank my team and my coaches. I love you all from the bottom of my heart. Your time and energy is greatly appreciated. You guys did a wonderful job, I was ready. It’s a fist fight and things happen. Dana White and the @ufc, thank you for being the premiere organization in all of MMA. Again, congrats to Team Jones and JacksonWink. Love you all. I’ll see you soon. DC”