It wasn't without a struggle, but Jon Jones choked out Lyoto Machida in spectacular fashion to end what was a captivating and fantastic fight.
Early on, Jones seemed confused by Machida's elusive style. Neither fighter seemed able to hit the other very often, but Machida was able to move in and out of Jones' range with far greater success than any fighter has in recent memory.
Jones couldn't hit Machida, and Machida landed a hard right that momentarily wobbled the champ.
Still, Jones quickly recovered, and in the second round, Jones' grappling and submission prowess proved the only difference that mattered.
Jones got a takedown against the cage and opened up a big gash on Machida's forehead that caused the referee to momentarily pause the fight to check with the doctor. Machida would later say after the fight that he thought the cut inhibited his vision, and was the beginning of the end.
When the fight restarted, Jones rocked Machida with a punch and quickly capitalized by choking Machida unconscious with a modified guillotine against the fence in a way that only a 6'3" man with an 84.5 inch reach can do.
The fight was called off, and Jones released Machida, who fell lifelessly to the mat.
Jon Jones might be the greatest finisher in the sport.
What killer instinct, and what an end to an amazing year.
When people look back at the history of MMA, 2011 will be remembered as the Jon Jones' year.
More than that, Jon Jones' 2011 domination has been the greatest single-year campaign in the short history of mixed martial arts.
Nostalgic Pride fans might still point to Mauricio Rua's 2005.
They're dead wrong.
Quinton Jackson, Mauricio Rua, and Lyoto Machida aren't just top 10 light heavyweights. They're three of the top light heavyweights in the short history of the sport, and Jones beat them all decisively. Even without Bader, this list is probably better than any year we've seen so far in terms of quality opposition.
Looking to the future, it's hard to imagine Jon Jones having much trouble with anybody in the current landscape.
Rashad Evans is simply too small.
Dan Henderson would get taken down and is pretty much helpless on his back.
It's unlikely that Dana White puts Anderson Silva against Jones, but if he did, it wouldn't be pretty for "The Spider." Sure, Silva is a better striker than Jones, but Jones' grappling would be far too much for Silva to handle.
Believe it or not, should Jones win his next two fights, his resume of achievements against elite competition will already be the greatest in the relatively short history of the light-heavyweight division.
Don't be surprised when people start putting Jon Jones ahead of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre on pound-for-pound lists either.
This could just be the Jon Jones era.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!