There have been many instances in fight promotion in which the calendars and circumstances of two opponents simply do not mesh. In these cases, for one reason or another, putting on a fight is much easier said than done. Never has this been truer than for Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier who have been scheduled to fight four or five times before – but only managed one contest at UFC 182.
Now though, barring any last minute hiccups, the pivotal rematch for the Light-Heavyweight Title will go down this Saturday, July 29 in Anaheim, California.
Following their first fight, in which Jones won by unanimous decision, there was considerable interest for a rematch. The much anticipated bout was, at various times, scheduled for UFC 187, 197, and 200. An injury to current Champion D.C. as well as a variety of criminal offenses on the part of Jones derailed one fight after the other. None though was more damaging than the Jackson/Wink fighter’s removal from UFC 200 at the 11th hour.
A positive drug test resulted in Jones losing his Interim-Title and being removed from UFC 200 just days before the event. For his part, Cormier stepped up to face Anderson Silva and won a unanimous decision victory in a performance that earned him the ire of many fans. Although, the Louisiana native clearly played it safe in the Silva fight, one should remember he was under no obligation to take on one of the greatest fighters alive. What many also seem to forget, that is if they are aware of the fact at all, is that Cormier volunteered to fight Jones regardless of his failed drug test.
There are many things you can criticize about D.C. but one thing you cannot question is his desire to beat the Rochester native. At UFC 182, that desire simply did not cut it, but events since that time seem to indicate a marked improvement in Cormier’s chances.
Since their bout in January of 2015, Jones has fought once while the AKA fighter has fought and won four times. Besides being more active than Jones, Cormier has also looked more impressive; at least relative to their respective performances. Their contrasting records also extend outside the cage.
In the past two years the eight-time Champion has been wrecking cars, snorting cocaine, and taking certain male enhancement supplements. D.C. on the other hand has been working as a color commentator, training hard, and occasionally leaning on towels to make weight. However, if there is one thing that the career of Jon Jones has taught us is that he can still beat elite talent even without being on the top of his game.
Jones has confessed to doing hard drugs, eating poorly, and barely training before big fights yet he has never lost (the Hamill fight being an egregious referee error). Although the Olympian may be closing the gap due to the experience garnered in his recent fights, Jones believes that he is simply too far ahead of the curve.
Despite his success at Heavyweight, his Olympic pedigree, and stellar record, most pundits are forced to agree that this is Jones’ fight to lose. The only time Jones has lost before has been outside the cage and so fans will be closely watching the lead up to UFC 214 praying that Jones and the MMA gods will keep this card in tact. Surprisingly though, Jones is not the only one we will need to keep on eye on leading up to July 29th. In Cormier’s last title fight, a rematch against Anthony Johnson, he failed to make weight initially (coming in nearly 2 pounds over). Just a few minutes after that failed attempt, Cormier returned to the scale and used an old wrestling trick (leaning on a towel) to make weight.
After making weight Cormier expressed the difficulty with which his body shed water in the week leading up to the fight. He attributed this to both age and consistency. The current Light-Heavyweight Champion has said that he will no longer balloon up between camps but Friday the 28th (weigh-in day) will be one to watch closely. If Cormier can legitimately make weight and Jones can resist the urge to get into any shenanigans we may finally see the rematch that has failed to materialize on so many occasions.
The main card of UFC 214 will feature three Title-Fights each of which could headline a card all on their own. When it came to deciding which of the three would headline on July 29th, the UFC was left with an easy decision. Jones/Cormier 2 is one of, if not, the biggest fight the UFC can currently put on.
For both men though, the fight will take place as much outside the octagon as in it. Recent history has taught us to treat this match-up with a cynical eye and only when Bruce Buffer announces their respective names will we be able to breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the fight.