ANAHEIM, Calif. — Bad blood, championship gold and the two best light heavyweight fighters on the planet will highlight the main event of UFC 214 on Saturday, when the long-awaited rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones takes center stage.
The bout marks only the second in the past 2½ years for Jones (22-1), whose repeated slipups made many question if one of the most deeply rooted rivalries in the sport’s history would ever find its second installment. Well, the time has come, as Cormier puts the UFC light heavyweight championship on the line against his greatest adversary.
Jones, who dwelled atop the 205-pound realm for four years, defeated Cormier (19-1) to retain his strap in the main event of UFC 182 in January 2015. Since then, the paths for the two diverged, as through all of Jones’ hardships, Cormier has dominated the rest of the light heavyweight landscape during his current title reign.
It is fitting that those paths cross again this weekend, as the animosity between the two combatants has only grown since the original fight. But as many combat sports junkies eagerly await the hostilities, we must look at how the first fight went down to get the best idea of what to expect in the sequel.
Jones put on a world-class performance against Cormier in the initial fight. While D.C. managed to find some success operating inside the clinch with dirty boxing tactics and several hard uppercuts, it was Jones’ ability to overcome Cormier’s advances in the pocket and neutralize his wrestling that proved to be the defining factor. Not to mention the repeated body punches, kicks and elbows delivered by Jones did not make life easy for his opponent, with Cormier hitting the fatigue wall in the championship rounds.
The former titleholder was also successful in taking Cormier, a decorated amateur and Olympic-caliber wrestler, to the mat on three occasions. Cormier was able to land a desperate takedown late, but it did little to stymie Jones, who cruised ahead to the unanimous decision victory, his last defense before being stripped of the title later that spring.
Pick: Jon Jones (-285)
over Daniel Cormier
Round Prop: 4.5
Will go (-170)
Much like Act I, Jones is able to withstand anything Cormier throws his way and dishes it right back at the champion. Jones reclaims the title by using his fluid, unorthodox striking, uncanny athleticism and world-renowned clinch skills to wear down Cormier and have his hand raised with another unanimous decision victory.
While the champion will keep the pressure on and relentlessly take the fight to his enemy, it is the challenger’s versatility and endless skill set that allows him to recapture the 205-pound crown.
Brett Lawson is a VSiN producer. Follow on Twitter: @BrettLawsonLV