Daniel Cormier was seen as the man who had the ability to be known as an equal to Jon Jones, someone who would fulfill the desires of the large portion of UFC fans who dislike Jones. While Cormier didn't do anything to loose any respect or admirers, UFC 182 was about Jon Jones taking another step towards unseen greatness in the UFC.
Cormier looked fantastic walking towards Jones, hunting him down trying to get inside Jones' giraffe like reach and he was rewarded with some heavy upper cuts in tight. Cormier touched Jones up, for sure but Jones, as he has done throughout his UFC career showed the ability to go to a different level displaying a new set of skills and a willingness to out-last his opponent.
For me, the key thing about Jones is that while Cormier landed some heavy blows in tight, Jones did the same as well as elbows ... and shoulders. Jones throws elbows as if they were a boxer's jab and if you're wide awake, aware of a few uppercuts, you'll be caught with the most lethal elbows in MMA. Jones also showcased some strange use of the shoulder, kind of like a Sonny Bill Williams shot in 2006 to remind his opponent that life isn't easy in close to Jones.
Defeating Jones isn't a simple task, as Cormier found out in the championship rounds. Cormier was successful landing a few punches early on, but Jones countered and controlled proceedings by pinning Cormier up against the cage, holding Cormier's wrists down and basically dictating proceedings. He wasn't dominating the fight with a flurry of blows but he was limiting Cormier's options and closed out the fight perfectly. For good measure he took Cormier down twice late in the fight as well.
Cormier would obviously be disappointed as he lost to a man who he doesn't like, but he admitted that Jones was better. If you want to beat Jon Jones you have to first of all be able to last in to the 5th round and have some energy left. If you're able to show some stamina, you've got to be able to somehow deal with jabs, knees, elbows, shoulders, wrestling, jiu jitsu and a grittiness only possessed by Jones. You've got to be able to go to a place that apparently only Jones himself can go to right now.
Jones vs Cormier was everything I wanted it to be. Early on, they traded blows which you have to think was a case of each fighter eager to stamp their mark but as the fight went on we were treated to the very thing that makes MMA awesome. Everything was on display at the highest level with both fighters showcasing their ability and knowledge of MMA. Fights that are 5 rounds tend to be a bit of a war and this fight had enough subtle skill to keep the MMA nerd happy as well as two top athletes going at it, which the general sports fan must be able to appreciate.
Jones will now wait to see who wins the fight between Alex Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson, then he'll defend his belt against the winner. Don't assume that because Gustafsson took Jones to a deep, dark place that he's a lock to beat Johnson as Johnson is one of the hottest prospects coming through the light heavyweight division. That's all that Jones can really focus on, should he win that fight then it would be hard to argue against Jones being the greatest ever. Personally, I reckon he already is but I'm not against him continuing to build a compelling case.
I do have a bit of a man crush on Jones and tend to write more about him than most UFC fighters because he simply deserves it. Every time I watch Jones fight, he shows something new or he shows improvement which is understandable as he's only fighting the very best. Daniel Cormier put up a valiant challenge, which only pushed Jones to another level, what more could you ask for?