Jon Jones declared himself the new “King of the Grind” after UFC 182. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Jon Jones’ victory over Daniel Cormier in the UFC 182 headliner played out much the way the light heavyweight king thought it would.
After studying copious amounts of film on his opponent and talking to people in the wrestling community, Jones became convinced that he would eventually be able to impose his will on Cormier. As the championship rounds arrived, it became obvious that “Bones” was the stronger fighter when it mattered most.
“I have some good friends in the wrestling community, especially my wrestling coach,” Jones said in a post-fight interview on Fox Sports 1. “[Cormier’s] known to break when you put it on him or you don’t submit to his alpha -- he slows down. He did it against Cael Sanderson several times and in different matches I’ve watched on YouTube several times. Whenever somebody would face him and be a man, he breaks.
“He says he’s the king of the grind. He’s not.”
Early on, however, Cormier was able to get his licks in, as he attacked with dirty boxing in close-quarters exchanges and connected with several solid uppercuts in the opening two stanzas. Jones, meanwhile, returned fire with his usual versatile arsenal of elbows, knees and kicks. After three rounds, it appeared that the belt was up for grabs.
“Daniel Cormier had to deal with that length, that reach, and he got inside in the earlier rounds,” UFC President Dana White told Fox Sports 1. “His inside game was just chewing Jones up -- uppercuts, big heavy punches.”
Jones downplayed the effects of Cormier’s offense.
“He wasn’t hurting me with his shots,” the Jackson-Wink MMA representative said. “I was letting him miss punches, miss kicks and land shots that [weren’t] doing too much damage to me.”
A closely-contested fight turned for good in round four, when Jones landed a pair of takedowns that seemed to sap much of Cormier’s remaining will. The pace slowed considerably in round five, with Jones controlling much of the action in the clinch and up against the fence. Cormier finally landed his only takedown of the matchup later in the frame, but by then it was too little, too late.
Jones had already sent his intended message.
“He held Frank Mir against the cage [at UFC on Fox 7] -- who is one of my dear friends -- held him against the cage and that’s what I did to him. I watched that fight so many times,” Jones said. “At points, the crowd was booing, and if you’re a fan, it’s not the most entertaining, but I out-grinded him. I held him against the cage. He could not get off the cage... It wasn’t a pretty fight; it wasn’t technically a sexy fight, but I proved that he wasn’t the king of the grind tonight. I was the king of the grind.”
The grudge match culminated in a bizarre exchange near the end of the bout. With Cormier clinging to a single leg and less than 10 seconds remaining, Jones raised his arms in triumph. Perhaps thinking the fight had ended, Cormier let his opponent go, and Jones capitalized by landing a left hand with a few ticks left on the clock. Cormier returned fire with a few punches after the horn, prompting Jones to punctuate his victory with a celebratory crotch chop. With that, any hopes a post-fight embrace were immediately extinguished.
“If you notice, I threw my last punches before the bell rang. He threw his last punches after the bell rang,” Jones said. “Once I saw him almost hit [referee] Herb Dean in the face trying to get after the bell punches, that’s why I gave him the ‘suck it’ sign, because the respect just wasn’t there.
“I don’t like Daniel Cormier. I don’t respect Daniel Cormier. I hope he’s somewhere crying right now. I’m sure he is. I can’t wait til he earns his way back so I can whoop him again.”