UFC events are now promoted to the hilt, and UFC 214 has been no exception. However, not all events in the history of the famous Octagon have justified the typically hysterical billing they invariably receive in the modern era. However, with just one look at the fight card of UFC 214, the hype it is currently enjoying appears fully vindicated before a single punch has even been thrown. It is a card which has everything: historical contexts, silverware on offer, and a chance to see if Jon Jones’ new regime really can make him the best pound-for-pound fighter on the entire roster.

Jones’ opponent on the night will be Daniel Cormier, a man who pushed him all the way at UFC 182 in January 2015. Though then-champion Jones was the winner by unanimous decision, Cormier emerged with his credibility enhanced, having been a stand in for original challenger Alexander Gustafsson. There is still, however, the nagging feeling that Cormier could have capitalized upon the fact that Jones was fighting through the pain barrier, after recovering from an injury. That would be the main reasoning behind his standing (as of 11 July 2017) as a 15/8 outsider with bookies to vanquish Jones. This second meeting, between an even more powerful Jones and a better prepared Cormier, has the potential to entertain and enthrall as much as the first did two and a half years ago.

Tale of the Tape

In 23 fights, Jones has lost only once. That defeat came via disqualification, for the use of elbows in an illegal way against Matt Hamill, at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale way back in December 2009 – as noted on Sherdog. What this means, in practice, is that Jones has never suffered a knockout, submission or stoppage. Every numbered, official UFC event has resulted in a Jones victory whenever the New Yorker has stepped into the Octagon. More than half of his victories have, however, ended in a decision. He has also failed to knock an opponent out since April 2013, with Chael Sonnen (at UFC 159) being that last unlucky victim of Jones’ upper body strength.

Though his conditioning for combat may not be as full as it could be ahead of his second bout with Cormier, Jones’ physique is now at an all-time high. In what could be a crucial trump card, he also has a psychological advantage, having already beaten Cormier. Yet, the fact remains that it was a decision victory, and with present light heavyweight champion Cormier presently on an impressive win streak, it could easily be the man from Lafayette celebrating vengeance – and the retention of his title – on July 29. Having been stripped of his title and subjected to a suspension after a professional misdemeanor, Jones has fought just once since his first meeting with Cormier. Jones beat Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision in April 2016, but the fact that he beat a fighter perceived to have no ‘big game’ mentality in such a labored fashion is no cause for encouragement.

Cormier in Fighting Form

Cormier’s loss to Jones in January 2015 is the only one he has suffered to date, as noted on ESPN. In his nineteen victories, only six have been settled by knockout, with another six coming by way of submission. Skilled in both Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (which are centric, respectively, on knockouts and submissions), and blessed with the stamina required to force a win by decision, he is seen as a good all-rounder in the octagon. Four wins have followed his decision loss against Jones, with two of them showcasing his ability in the performing the rear-naked choke hold. In his most recent defense of the light heavyweight title, Cormier’s second-round submission win over Anthony Johnson demonstrated exactly why he is currently the supreme ruler of that division.

Verdict: Cormier to win by unanimous decision and successfully defend his belt for a third time. Jones is still a very formidable opponent, but this will be an entirely different experience for the man who is looking to reclaim lost credibility in the Octagon.

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