On Saturday, Anaheim will witness the best Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card of the year when Daniel Cormier takes on Jon Jones, less than a month before the big boxing showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.
The Main Card of UFC 214 has been prepared, and looking at the line-up, it’s evident that with three title fights featuring brilliant match-ups, this is the strongest card they have produced after UFC 205 — especially the Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerrone match-up. But the main focus of the night undoubtedly will be the main event.
Revenge or Redemption?
— #UFC214 (@ufc) July 29, 2017
Jones' official professional record in 23 bouts is 22 wins and one defeat. Even that one defeat against Matt Hamill was an unfair disqualification due to 'downward elbows'. The referee called the fight off wrongly at a point when Jones was dominating. It's still widely said that he is still undefeated.
Cormier's record, on the other hand, in 20 bouts is 19 wins and a defeat. This defeat was not a disputed one. Notably, it came against the man he despises the most: Jones.
This is a rematch which has been coming since two years. The pair is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time, and without a doubt, the best two light-heavyweights in the world. The duo will finally square off again for the second time.
It’s a rivalry that has assumed the proportions of a saga. The first fight between the two was scheduled for UFC 178, but then had to be postponed to UFC 182 because of injury. Jones won that fight unanimously, mentally dismantling Cormier and using his height to negate his rival’s style which is based on world-class wrestling.
The bad blood between the two throughout the lead-up to the fight was a revelation. Be it in press-conferences, media days or face-offs, the tension was thick enough to be cut with a knife. Something massive was anticipated for the event, something people were having trouble predicting, an unusual odds battle when it comes to Jones fighting. He got the job done, but it was evident that there was still unfinished business. The shadow of a second fight loomed on the horizon. The question was when.
Cut to UFC 185, when Jones was about to face Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. However, his activities outside the cage caused him to be suspended. Jones, who wears an air of invincibility around himself, almost wrecked his legacy by going on a drunken night out which ended in him hitting a pregnant women with his car and breaking her hand. He was charged with driving under the influence and rightfully stripped from the belt by the organisation.
His business outside the octagon is not our bother or the topic under discussion, but it matters as the mistake led to Cormier usurping his place and, as fans will say, his 'belt' at UFC 187. It was Cormier who then stepped up to take on Johnson, and he won that fight after almost being knocked out by vicious right of Rumble. First thing he said after winning in the post-fight interview? "Jon Jones get your s**t together, I'm coming for you!"
Jones was forced to watch the man, who he had defeated comprehensively in every way in their first fight, go around wearing his 'belt', and being called the champ, while he had to sit at the sidelines. For a man of Jones’ ego, such disdain would’ve irked every single fibre of his being.
After making a comeback, Jones was set to face Cormier at UFC 197. But again it was not to be as Cormier pulled out due to injuries. Ovince St Preux stepped up to fight Jones for the Interim Light Heavyweight title fight. To say Jones looked rusty would not be the craziest thing in the world — he acknowledged as much despite winning the title saying, "I feel I only showed 20% of who I really am." The wheels were set in motion to have a title unification bout with Cormier, who was commentating on Jones’ fight that night.
Soon UFC 200, the biggest card the company could summon at the time, also featuring the return of Brock Lesnar, was set up. With three titles on the line, Cormier vs Jones was given the green signal to headline the most important PPV for UFC in a long time. The stage was set, the press conferences were done, and the trash-talking was on point.
The promotion of the fight was done perfectly, with spectators waiting tirelessly to watch their two favourite fighters settle their scores in the octagon. But, again, it wasn’t to be. Jones tested positive for a tainted substance, and the fight was called off. At this point, the whole Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) community probably thought maybe this is how it was supposed to end, that maybe there won’t be a second fight ever. After all, Cormier was 38 and who knew how long Jones’ suspension was going to last.
After a long period of trials and tribulation, Jones’ suspension ended after a year. And now he’s back. On UFC 197, Cormier kept on reiterating, “I would have beat this Jon Jones.” Now, he has a chance to back his words. But he should bear in mind how Jones generally operates. The tougher the opposition, the better he becomes. Cormier is his biggest rival, and now Jones has a chance to take back the belt which he believes has always been his, while Cormier has a chance to make people understand how truly good he is.
This is the best fight UFC could’ve pulled off this year and it always had a sense of inevitability. Whoever was the next in line to fight for the title after Jones' absence has been defeated by Cormier. It is almost poetic to see him clear out the division to make his way towards Jones to avenge his loss. That is what motivates him, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how it turns out.
Updated Date: Jul 29, 2017 20:20:17 IST