In the words of Bruce Buffer “It’s time!”.
The UFC’s fifth International Fight week has arrived as mixed martial arts fans are treated to a glut of bouts to devour. Over three days of relentless action, there will be 35 fights on offer, building to a crescendo at the historic UFC 200 blockbuster – a night which features three title clashes and nine current or former champions entering the Octagon.
That stacked card alone at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday would have been enough to whet the appetite. But add a Fight Night event headlined by a lightweight title showdown between Rafael dos Anjos on Friday and The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on Thursday, and you’ve got yourself a feast of action.
However, there is one fight which fans have truly craved: Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones 2. Their light-heavyweight title unification clash has been a long time coming. Trouble with the law, injuries and suspension have delayed a second meeting between these two adversaries, but in the showpiece on Saturday, they will have the opportunity to bury their tempestuous rivalry.
Jones, one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, is aiming to take back the belt he never lost inside the cage – Jones was suspended and stripped of the title following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident – a strap which Cormier claimed and retained in his absence.
Of course, a special event warrants special hype, and this fight provides that in abundance.
Yes, Conor McGregor’s highly-anticipated rematch with Nate Diaz would have attracted more eyeballs, but tear away the superficial circumstances, and the context for this clash runs much deeper.
Their bitter feud rapidly reignited this week having simmered after their initial repeat at UFC 197 was scrapped due to Cormier’s leg injury. And Jones delivered a verbal knockout by stating the 205lbs champ does “not punch hard” having tasted his power in their first clash at UFC 182 last year.
“In my fight with Daniel Cormier, he always talks about how I was working his body and I kicked him in the ribs and I kneed him in the ribs, and these body shots that really sent a shockwave going through his body,” said Jones on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
“But at no point in the fight did one of his punches do anything to me, or kicks. At no point in the fight did he get me to bleed. At no point in the fight did he get me to lose my breath or to look up at the clock out of frustration. At no point did he wobble me with a punch. I mean, Daniel Cormier caught me with like 60 uppercuts in that fight, and I’m exaggerating. Not one of those uppercuts did anything to me.”
Conversely, Cormier is confident of reversing his fortunes from their first clash and pointed to Jones’ lacklustre win over Ovince Saint Preux last time out as a source of belief.
“The Jon that showed up against OSP is the guy that is going be in the Octagon on July 9,” Cormier said. “That is who he is. Nothing’s free, so all the partying and other stuff, you have to pay for that. And now, we’re seeing him where it’s time to pay the costs. He’s paying for all the outlandish living.”
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