Jones v. Cormier: Blood, sweat, and tears
Jon Jones reclaimed the UFC light heavyweight championship at last night’s UFC 214 event in Anaheim, California, this past Saturday after scoring a third-round TKO victory over Daniel Cormier in the evening’s main event.
Jones beat his rival Cormier at UFC 182 two and a half years ago, but had twice been stripped of his title for cocaine, steroids, and killing a pregnant women with his car and fleeing the scene. Cormier, a family man who coincidentally lost a one-year old daughter in a car crash similar to the one perpetrated by Jones, held the UFC light heavyweight title for two years and has only lost to one man in his career: Jones. The UFC 214 main event was considered one of the best fights in UFC history and was a huge box-office success. Unfortunately, however, despite the moral lines drawn between their histories, a stark division between vice, virtue, and even bloodshed, Jones came out on top.
Cormier, who had absorbed a nasty kick to the head and a beating in a fight that even UFC President Dana White said could have been stopped “three, four, five punches earlier,” was interviewed by Joe Rogan, the veteran UFC analyst, immediately following the tough loss. Cormier was seen interviewed as clearly crying, a social faux-pas in a culture as tough and hyper-masculine as MMA.
Rogan said that he had broken his own rule about not interviewing fighters who had been knocked out and he was unavailable to USA Today later. He reiterated his regret over conducting an interview after a knockout Sunday. “I’ve said that I don’t want to interview fighters after they’ve been KO’ed and then I did it to someone that I care a great deal about,” Rogan wrote.
Additionally Cormier was visibly upset immediately following the third-round TKO loss and seemed to blame referee John McCarthy for stopping the fight too early. Upon looking at the replay, it appeared to most that McCarthy might have even stopped it a shade too late, which McCarthy admitted Sunday on Twitter.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion released a statement Sunday on Instagram. Cormier thanked his supporters and team and congratulated Jon Jones and his squad: “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.”
Jones has issued the following statement: “I just want to take this time to thank Daniel Cormier. For being my biggest rival and motivator. Daniel Cormier, guys, he has absolutely no reason to hang his head. He has been a model champion. A model husband,a model father, a teammate, a leader and I aspire to be a lot more like that man because he’s an amazing human being. Unfortunately we were opponents but outside of that, he is a true champion for the rest of his life!”
The fight this past Saturday divided MMA fans across the country as to who should have won, given the circumstances, and even if the fight should have occurred at all, given Jones’ deplorable history. In a sport as new as the UFC this fight may truly be a definitive moment for what the organization means as a whole going forward.
Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com