The main event of UFC 210 is a rematch of a fight that never should have happened. Not only should that fight never have happened but by all accounts this rematch shouldn’t be happening again either. That quagmire of a sentence is brought to you by Jon Jones.
Daniel Cormier first fought Anthony Johnson at UFC 187. Johnson was originally scheduled to fight then Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones who had some minor car trouble and was pulled from the card. Cormier happily filled in on short notice to win his first UFC title and guarantee himself a rematch against Jones.
That rematch first fell through when Cormier suffered a groin tear, after beating Alexander Gustafsson, and was forced to pull out of their headlining fight at UFC 197. Jones cruised to an easy, if unimpressive, win over Ovince St. Preux that night earning a highly sought after Interim Belt. Following UFC 197 the rematch between Jones and Cormier was set for UFC 200.
Once again though Jon Jones failed to make it to the cage, this time mere hours away, when it was revealed that he failed a drug test and was pulled from the card. So while Jones was busy building his defense, the AKA product faced Anderson Silva in a riveting wrestling match with MMA gloves.
While all this was going on, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was knocking people out like Ray Rice in an elevator. Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader, and Glover Teixeira all fell in a total time of less than 7 minutes. With Jones still serving his suspension, Rumble on a tear and DC continuing to hold the belt, the fight that should never have happened simply had to happen again.
Going in to Saturday night the Combat Club fighter leads as a slight favorite – no doubt thanks to his last few impressive performances. But with DC riled up over Jones’ appearance at Fight Week as well as the recent controversy at the weigh-ins I think it is safe to say that the odds makers are on to something.
At 38-years-old Cormier has aged considerably since he last beat Johnson. The Light-Heavyweight Champion was just barely able to survive a glancing blow from the Florida resident 2 years ago. Since then he has had a groin injury and fought a war against Gustafsson. So while there are no obvious signs of the Louisiana native’s waning ability to take a shot I think it is safe to say that things might go differently should Rumble connect emphatically.
That being said questions still remain about Johnson’s willingness to battle through rough patches. Granted that question needn’t be answered if he continues to march through opponents in the first or second round. But if their last meeting was any indication, the former Welterweight should be in trouble the longer the fight goes on.
Besides his tendency to slow down in the later rounds, Rumble has shown his Achilles heel to be wrestling – something Cormier excels in. Their respective roads to victory are the same that they have always been. Rumble by early knockout or DC via “the grind”.
As things stands DC has far more on his plate. He continues to deal with criticism about his fight with Anderson Silva, Jon Jones is poking around his stomping grounds, and now a flagrant “wrestling trick” at the weigh-ins has forced him to answer a barrage of difficult questions. Rumble on the other hand has nothing to do but focus on the task at hand.
However, it is safe to say that a man with the mental fortitude of the AKA standout can by all means overcome these distractions. But even if he does so the “KFC King” will still have to contend with one of the scariest fighters in all of MMA.
On April 8th, 2017 in Buffalo, New York Cormier vs. Johnson 2 headlines a card that could use all the help it can get. Many view this fight as a way to kill time until the return of Jon Jones.
But for the headliners UFC 210 it is about much more than a man who needs to get his shit together. The official poster and the odds makers have told us who is wanted/expected to win. The facts on the ground have led many others to a similar conclusion. But the underrated Champion will be the deciding factor, not a towel, nor a piece of cardboard, and certainly not a bunch of gamblers on the inter-web.