The end came with a sudden viciousness built up over the past two years.
It started with a leg kick to the head, and once Jon “Bones” Jones swept Daniel Cormier off his feet, he began a relentless ground and pound fueled by anger and redemption.
With a battered Cormier defenseless, the referee had no choice but to stop the fight at 3:01 of the third round of their UFC light-heavyweight showdown Saturday night at the Honda Center.
Jones regained the title at UFC 214 that was stripped from him in 2015 after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident. He had fought just once since serving two suspensions.
“I made it back,” Jones said. “I did a lot of right things to get back to this position. As long as you don’t quit, it’s never over.”
The first two rounds were competitive and close. Cormier (19-2) appeared to stagger Jones with a right hand in the second round, but the end came suddenly in the third round once Jones landed the leg kick. Jones, as the champion, won their first meeting in January 2015 by decision.
Jones (23-1) called out former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar after the fight.