ANAHEIM — Jon Jones seized redemption and his UFC title Saturday in the form of a perfectly placed left head kick.
Jones (23-1) reclaimed the undisputed light heavyweight championship at UFC 214 by knocking out Daniel Cormier at 3:01 of the third round. The victory put an end to Jones’ long rivalry with Cormier (19-2), who held the title for two years during his absence from the sport.
After the win, his 10th career knockout, Jones heaped praise on Cormier and then called out former UFC heavyweight champion and WWE star Brock Lesnar.
“I want to take this time to thank Daniel Cormier for being my biggest rival and motivator,” Jones said. “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.”
Jones then walked over to embrace a distraught Cormier, before walking back to grab the microphone.
“Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by someone who weighs 40 pounds less than you? Meet me in the Octagon,” Jones said.
Before the finish Saturday, the Jones-Cormier rematch looked similar to their first meeting in early 2015. It was closely contested, with Cormier, 38, closing the distance and trying to force Jones into a dog fight. Cormier, a former Olympic wrestler, did not convert a single takedown, but he knocked Jones’ mouthpiece out with uppercuts and found a home for the overhand right.
Jones, who fights out of Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, laughed off most of the shots, even though several landed cleanly. Any time Jones was afforded distance, he was effective with it. He caught Cormier with plenty of left hooks to the body and front kicks to the thigh.
Cormier appeared to be finding his groove in the second round, but everything turned on the…