Jon Jones rose to the occasion yet again. | Photo: Josh Hedges/UFC/Zuffa/Getty
Jon Jones rose to the challenge yet again.
Diverse standup, statement-making takedowns and a grinding clinch game spurred Jones to a unanimous decision over Daniel Cormier, as he retained the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight crown in the UFC 182 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges arrived at the same verdict: 49-46 for Jones (21-1, 15-1 UFC), who has rattled off 12 straight wins.
Cormier (15-1, 4-1 UFC) was effective in spurts but gradually wore down. The American Kickboxing Academy export did his best work near the end of the first round and into the second, as he attacked Jones with potent dirty boxing in close quarters. Right uppercuts connected often but failed to deter the champion. Jones responded with standing elbows, knees and a variety of kicks to the head, body and legs.
The complexion of what had been a competitive fight changed in the fourth round, where Jones executed a pair of double-leg takedowns and seemed to suck the life right out of his opponent. Cormier landed a takedown of his own in round five but never put himself in position to author the finish he needed. Jones cruised to the finish line, his eighth title defense a resounding success.
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Cerrone Hands Jury First Loss
In the lightweight co-main event, Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay Donald Cerrone posted his sixth straight win and did so in dominant fashion, as he took a unanimous verdict from the previously unbeaten Myles Jury. Cerrone (26-6, 13-3 UFC) earned 30-27 marks from all three judges and continued his latest march toward the top of the 155-pound weight class.
“Cowboy” set the tone with a strong first round, as he countered a Jury takedown, swept into top position behind an omaplata and nearly finished it with a rear-naked choke. After a competitive round two, Cerrone turned on the jets. He chewed up Jury’s leg with kicks, scored with a stinging jab and rocked him with a foot-to-jaw head kick. An Alliance MMA rep, Jury (15-1, 4-1 UFC) spent the closing minutes in retreat, with Cerrone in dogged pursuit.
Tavares Downs Reeling Marquardt
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 graduate Brad Tavares leaned on damaging leg kicks and a punishing jab in claiming a unanimous decision over former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt in a featured battle at 185 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Tavares (13-3, 8-3 UFC), who halted a two-fight losing streak.
Outside of a front kick to the face in the first round, Marquardt (33-14-2, 11-7 UFC) was largely ineffective. Tavares battered his left leg with kicks, popped him over and over again with his jab, shut down his takedown attempts and answered the 35-year-old’s punching flurries with some of his own. The Hawaiian put the finishing touches on the victory late in the third round, where he shook a fading Marquardt with a brutal knee to the body.
Marquardt has lost four of his last five fights.
Horiguchi Wins Ninth Straight
Surging Japanese import Kyoji Horiguchi kept his name on the short list of potential title contenders at 125 pounds, as he cruised to a unanimous verdict against Louis Gaudinot in a flyweight showcase. Horiguchi (15-1, 4-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 marks, recording his ninth consecutive victory.
A relatively even first round gave way to one-way traffic for Horiguchi. The 24-year-old Norifumi Yamamoto protégé lulled Gaudinot (6-4, 1-3 UFC) to sleep with incessant lateral movement and either vaulted forward with crackling right hands or swarmed with multi-strike bursts. Horiguchi often punctuated his combinations with kicks to the legs or head, keeping the Team Tiger Schulmann standout at bay for much of the final 10 minutes.
A former Ring of Combat champion, Gaudinot remains winless since May 2012.
Lombard Ruins Burkman Return
Heavy leg kicks, clean power punching and relentless forward movement carried former Bellator MMA champion Hector Lombard to a unanimous decision over the returning Josh Burkman in a featured welterweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it for Lombard (35-4-1, 4-2 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Burkman (27-11, 5-6 UFC), who last appeared inside the Octagon at UFC 90, landed occasionally but found himself in a constant backpedal against the menacing Cuban judoka. Lombard worked over the Pit Elevated representative with savage kicks to the lead leg and punching flurries, patiently tightening his grip on the match. He took down Burkman inside the first minute of the third round, worked from half guard and eventually passed to side control. Lombard then resumed his assault with punches and kicks on the feet, as a spent Burkman scrambled to his feet.
The 36-year-old Lombard has won 24 of his past 26 bouts.