UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC 214 card in Anaheim, Calif.
Updated: July 27, 2017 • 12:38 PM ET
Jon 'Bones' Jones is looking to reclaim the title he never lost in the Octagon.
This Saturday is the date, UFC 214 is the event and the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. is the place. On paper, UFC 214 is one of the most stacked cards of the year, featuring the rematch everyone has waited for. But, until the two fighters stand across one another in the Octagon, there’s doubt that the fight will actually happen.
After two cancelled fights, angry social media banter and plenty of trash talk, Jon Jones is set to challenge Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight belt that the UFC stripped ‘Bones’ of in April 2015.
It’s no mystery that Jones and Cormier aren’t fond of one another, and they let the world know every chance they get. During a promotional event for their first fight at UFC 178, Jones and Cormier got into a brawl that Jones ignited by pressing his forehead against Cormier's during a stare-down. Jones’ nudge prompted Cormier to shove Jones by the throat, and both fighters had to be restrained by event organizers and security. Unfortunately, Jones pulled out of the September 2014 fight, citing a leg injury.
The two fighters eventually put their hate for one another on the line at UFC 182 in January 2015. Jones won by unanimous decision in a fairly one-sided fight, beating Cormier at his own game by becoming the first fighter to take the former Olympic wrestler down in the Octagon. Yet, soon after the fight, the UFC fined Jones $25,000 after he tested positive for metabolites found in cocaine a month prior to the fight.
Nevertheless, Jones was scheduled to defend the title against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in May 2015. But less than a month before the fight, Jones was stripped of the belt and suspended from the UFC indefinitely, stemming from his participation in a hit-and-run traffic incident. Cormier stepped in and defeated Johnson to win the vacant light heavyweight title.
A rematch between Cormier and Jones was scheduled to take place in April 2016 at UFC 197, but Cormier pulled out of the fight due to a foot injury and was replaced by Ovince Saint Preux. Jones defeated Saint Preux by unanimous decision, winning the interim light heavyweight title.
Another Cormier versus Jones rematch for the undisputed title was rescheduled and expected to take place in July 2016 at UFC 200. However, three days before the fight, USADA removed Jones from the bout after a potential doping violation.
In November 2016, USADA announced that Jones would be suspended one year, retroactive to July 6, the date Jones was pulled from UFC 200. A few days later, the UFC stripped Jones of his interim light heavyweight title, making him the first fighter in UFC history to be stripped of a title twice. That December, Jones was also suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for one year, also retroactive to July 6.
The Fight MMA Fans Have Waited For
Jones is back and proclaims that he’s clean with all the controversy behind him. His main goal is defeating Cormier and getting back the title that he never lost in the Octagon. Cormier has had to listen to Jones and many others in the MMA community say he won’t be the true champion until he defeats Jones. Regardless of the chatter, Cormier has proven that he’s a worthy champion with title defenses over Alexander Gustafson and Johnson. The only black mark on his 19-1 record is his loss to Jones.
Jones is still considered by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but he hasn’t fought in more than a year, which begs the question: will he show signs of ring rust? He spent more than a year on the sidelines before his fight with Saint Preux, and while he didn’t have a bad fight, he didn’t look like the same Jon Jones fans became accustomed to seeing. Cormier claimed that if Jones had fought that way against him, he would have easily defeated Jones.
Cormier last fought in April, defeating Johnson for a second time by rear-naked choke. Johnson has since retired, leaving No. 1 ranked light heavyweight contender Jones as the obvious choice for Cormier’s next title defense.
Jones and Cormier, though, is just one of three title fights at UFC 214.
Welterweight Title Bout
The co-main event will feature a welterweight title fight between champion Tyron Woodley and No. 1 contender Demian Maia.
Woodley won the welterweight title by knocking out Robbie Lawler in Round 1 at UFC 201 in July 2016. He has since successfully defended his belt twice against No. 2 ranked welterweight Stephen Thompson, the latter of which coming at UFC 209 in March. Woodley is one of the hardest strikers in the welterweight division, but he’ll be fighting a man who likes to take fights to the ground on Saturday.
Maia, 39 years old, has won seven straight fights on his way to a title shot. He last defeated Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 in May, and the world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has some of the trickiest submissions in the game. Maia has shown that he can take down good wrestlers at will, but Woodley is a much greater challenge. The 35-year-old Woodley is a two-time Division 1 All-American wrestler and brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Woodley hasn’t been afraid to take his fights to the ground by using his wrestling ability, but how well will he deal with Maia’s submission attempts? Other questions going into this fight are, how will Woodley deal with Maia’s size advantage? Maia is 6-foot-1, while Woodley is 5-foot-9. To counter that question, how will Maia deal with Woodley’s punching power, should he connect?
Women’s Featherweight Title Bout
The third title fight of the evening is for the vacant women’s featherweight title, featuring Cris Cyborg and Tonya Evinger. The UFC stripped former champion Germaine de Randamie in June after she refused to defend the title against No. 1 contender Cyborg, stating that “Cyborg is a known and proven cheater.”
Cyborg tested positive for stanozolol metabolites, an anabolic steroid, in 2011. The CSAC suspended her license for one year, however, in December 2016, the UFC was notified of another potential doping violation in an out-of-competition test. Her team immediately responded that it was due to a substance that helped her recover from her weight cut for a fight in September. In February, USADA granted Cyborg a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE), which removed any possible suspension and allowed her to immediately compete.
After the UFC stripped De Randamie, Cyborg was supposed to face Megan Anderson for the vacated UFC women's featherweight title at UFC 214. But Anderson pulled out of the fight due to “personal issues” and was replaced by current Invicta FC bantamweight champion Evinger.
Evinger has won 10 of her last 11 fights with one bout ruled a no contest, and her last loss came in 2011 to Sara McMann. She has a fight anyone, anywhere reputation, but Cyborg will be the toughest challenge of her career. A UFC title will cement Cyborg’s legacy, but it could also represent the emergence of a new star in the UFC, for those fans who are still questioning her greatness.
The main card will also feature a welterweight fight between No. 3 ranked former champion Robbie Lawler and No. 7 Donald Cerrone.
The two were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 205, but Lawler removed himself from the potential fight after stating he needed more time for recovery after his KO loss to Woodley. The two were expected to meet at UFC 213, but Cerrone was forced to pull out of the fight due to a staph infection and pulled groin. The two will finally meet at 214 in what should be an explosive fight.
Lawler has a warrior spirit that won fans over in his title defenses against Johny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald, the latter of which is considered by many to be the greatest fight in UFC history. Lawler has earned victories over other tough fighters, including Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger.
Cerrone is a former lightweight title challenger and shares that same warrior spirit that fans have grown to adore. He’s willing to fight anyone, and before his last fight, a loss to Jorge Masvidal in January, Cerrone fought four times in 2016, picking up finishes in all four fights.
Cerrone has looked like a different fighter since moving up to welterweight, but the busy Octagon work seemed to take its toll on him in the Masvidal fight. Before that fight, Cerrone was involved in a three-round brawl with Brown that saw him get rocked many times. His fight with Masvidal was just under two months later.
Cerrone has the most combined appearances between the WEC and UFC, and six months is a long layoff for a fighter that stays as busy as he.
"I would have fought sooner, but [UFC president Dana White] put me in timeout for a while," Cerrone told ESPN's Five Rounds podcast. "After the [Masvidal loss], he said, 'You're in timeout.' I asked if I could call him for a fight and he said, 'No.' I said, 'Come on. ' He said, 'No.'"
Cerrone put together eight straight wins to earn a lightweight title shot, but after his loss to then-champion Rafael dos Anjos, he moved up to welterweight. In his last 14 fights, he’s 12-2; and a win over Lawler would propel him up the rankings.
Light Heavyweight Bout
Rounding out the main card is a light heavyweight fight between No. 3 Jimi Manuwa and No. 5 Volkan Oezdemir. The winner could face the winner of the main event between Cormier and Jones for the next title shot.
Manuwa has won two straight fights with KO’s over Corey Anderson and Saint Preux. He’s 6-2 in the UFC and has shown tremendous punching power, posing a severe threat to anyone in the division. He has been vocal about his desire to fight Cormier and the belief that he could easily knock the champ out. A convincing win over Oezdemir would make it difficult to deny him a title shot, whether it be Cormier or Jones that holds it.
Oezdemir has had two fights and two wins in the UFC, sky-rocketing up the rankings in the process. He made a successful debut in February with a split-decision victory over Saint Preux. He then had a quick KO victory over Misha Cirkunov in May. Some have said that his climb in the rankings is a bit premature, but a win over a proven fighter such as Manuwa would eliminate that thought process.
Should the all-too-familiar situation of either Cormier or Jones being removed from their fight happen, Manuwa and Oezdemir will be ready to step up and fill one of their shoes. It almost works out too perfectly should disaster strike with the main event.
Featherweight fight: No. 3 Ricardo Lamas vs. No. 15 Jason Knight
Catchweight (140 pounds) fight: No. 8 BW Aljamain Sterling vs. No. 14 BW Renan Barao
Featherweight fight: No. 8 Renato Moicano vs. No. 8 Brian Ortega
Featherweight fight: Andre Fili vs. Calvin Kattar
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Women’s strawweight fight: Kailin Curran vs. Alexandra Albu
Flyweight fight: Eric Shelton vs. Jarred Brooks
Lightweight fight: Josh Burkman vs. Drew Dober