We are just hours away from one of the most anticipated rematches of the decade, Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II. The names alone are enough to make one forget that there are two other title fights on the card. One even forgets that the 205 pounders will be competing for a belt of their own. However, the fact is that the belt is secondary in this feud, this is personal.
The rivalry began at UFC 182 in 2015 and was meant to come to a head at UFC 187 later that year. Then again at UFC 197… and again at UFC 200. However, circumstances outside of the Octagon pushed the fight back. And now, two years later fight fans get their rematch. Jones put on a dominant performance to retain his belt in their first meeting. But, that was over two years ago, and the landscape of the light heavyweight division has changed quite a bit.
Since their first meeting, Cormier has fought four times, Jones only once. In the past two years the UFC has seen Jones stripped of the light heavyweight title. He was also suspended for the use of both performance-enhancing and recreational drugs, as well as being involved in a hit and run accident in his home state of New Mexico. While only managing one fight in April of 2016, Jones reminded everyone of what got him to the top of the light heavyweight division. He had a winning performance over Ovince Saint Preux for an interim title belt in the weight class. Jones’ one fight in two years is a stark contrast to how busy Cormier has been since they first met in the cage.
DC’s Road to the Top:
With the title vacated, the UFC pitted the top two against one another to determine a new champion. Cormier and Anthony Johnson were those men. While Cormier could not defeat Jones, he dominated the most powerful puncher in the division. Choking out the man called “Rumble” in the third round. Cormier then went on to win three more fights; Alexander Gustafsson, Johnson again, and one of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva. While the protagonists of UFC 214’s main event have taken different roads, they have always been destined to meet again.
All Roads Lead to Anaheim:
These two fighters have not been able to get away from the conversation of fighting each other for two years. Each fighter needs to defeat the other to receive validation. Cormier’s title reign will continue to be questioned and doubted until he can beat Jon Jones, a man who never lost the belt in competition.
Winning the belt for Jon Jones would mean redemption in the public eye and a return to the top of a weight class he’s dominated for years. Jon Jones has the advantage of having already defeated Cormier once. However, Cormier has proven to be a dominant champion in his own right. He has defeated opponents with larger frames and longer reach, especially in the form of Gustafsson who has a very similar frame to Jones. Thus, Cormier has spent the last two years preparing for this rematch against a longer, bigger opponent. Jones, being the only man to ever defeat Cormier, already has the blueprint to do so.
On Saturday, Cormier will look to become the only man to defeat both Silva and Jones in the same lifetime and solidify his reign as the light heavyweight champion. On the same night, Jon Jones looks to get both the belt he never lost and his life back.