-- 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 head kick in the third. Cormier staggered backward and eventually tripped near the fence, where Jones dropped elbows and punches until referee John McCarthy called the fight.
"We knew he dips his head to the left and were waiting on him to instinctually dip that way," Jones said. "We surprised him with one, and it did the job."
Cormier, who has lost only to Jones during his professional career, was emotional after the loss.
"I don't know, man," Cormier said. "I thought the fight was going well. I don't even know what happened. I got kicked in the head. ... Oh, man, I am so disappointed."?
Asked to comment on his rivalry with Jones, Cormier said, "I don't know. If you win both fights, there is no rivalry."
The likelihood of a fight between Jones and Lesnar is hard to pinpoint at the moment. Lesnar came out of retirement last year and defeated Mark Hunt via unanimous decision at UFC 200. Lesnar, 40, failed multiple drug tests around that event and is still under suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Jones spoke with ESPN after Saturday's win and elaborated on why he called Lesnar out.
"That's not even about Brock, that's about the world paying attention and it being a megafight for the sport of WWE and for MMA," Jones said. "It's a huge opportunity, man. Brock is huge. And I'm sure the betting odds would be, you know, a lot of people would imagine that I would lose that one.?
"To be honest, I'm not even sure how this whole thing got started. But I'm a champion, and I believe that if you're a champion you can't be afraid to go out there and test yourself against the greatest challenges. That'd be a huge challenge for sure."
On the prospect of a Jones-Lesnar fight, UFC president Dana White said in Saturday's postfight news conference that he's interested in whatever interests the fans, but mentioned Lesnar's situation with USADA.
"Brock Lesnar just told the [Associated Press], 'Be careful what you wish for, young man,'" White said. "I haven't talked to Brock Lesnar, but with USADA, he has to wait six months. He has to be in the program for six months. [Jones] will fight somebody before that. I don't know a name off the top of my head, but he'll fight before [Lesnar]."