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  • UFC 178: As Questions Loom, Can Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones Deliver a Classic?

    Daniel Cormier has always been the elephant in the room.

    Ever since the former Olympic wrestler announced in August 2013 that he’d shed the weight necessary to enter the UFC light heavyweight division, he’s been considered the biggest, most interesting threat to champion Jon Jones.

    This was the bout everybody wanted—a superfight so hotly anticipated that Cormier already had the T-shirts printed up.

    It’s just that nobody thought it would happen this fast, and nobody wanted it to come at the expense of another talented and well-liked fighter.

    There were unmistakably mixed emotions Wednesday as the UFC announced on its website that Alexander Gustafsson was injured and out of his Sept. 27 bout against Jones. Gustafsson seems like one of the sport’s true good guys, and after pushing the previously unassailable titlist to the brink last year at UFC 165, their rematch was starred on all our calendars.

    It’s one of the great luxuries of being the UFC, though, that the fight company can simultaneously scratch one of the most anticipated fights of 2014 and replace it with an arguably better, arguably more intriguing affair.

    With all due reverence to the Swede and his torn meniscus, Cormier has always been the guy we wanted opposite Jones. Given that DC is already 35 years old, this is a fight and a feud best served now, before father time or further unforeseen circumstances can spoil it.

    Not that it comes without question marks.

    In a sport where anything and everything can turn on a dime, there are always extenuating circumstances.

    The timing of this fight announcement seemed curious, almost as if it was meant to overshadow fallout from Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen appearing in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission earlier in the day. It felt like kind of a rush job, and there are lingering concerns about the challenger’s health.

    In the wake of his UFC 173 victory over Dan Henderson in May, we learned Cormier fought with preexisting injuries to two knee ligaments: the lateral collateral and anterior cruciate, if you're scoring at home.

    On July 5 he competed in an exhibition wrestling match at the UFC 175 Fan Expo (and won), but last we heard he was still scheduled for surgery. Sometime between then and Gustafsson’s own knee injury, plans changed. Cormier has now decided to delay medical intervention, either because of the opening at UFC 178 or in anticipation of it:

    Here’s hoping he’s as healthy as he claims. Despite the fact Cormier comes in with an unblemished 15-0 record and considerable hype, Jones is still the best fighter in the world at any weight. There’s simply no way Cormier can dethrone the champion if he’s fighting on one leg.

    Taking on Jones is tough enough while possessing a full complement of working limbs. It’d be a shame if a fight with so much promise and so much buildup underwhelms because Cormier took it prematurely.

    Frankly, it’s too big and too important for that.

    Just look at the first 24 hours of build, which have already surpassed anything Jones and Gustafsson managed to create for their rematch in months—and yes, that includes those unfortunate days when people tried to make Jones “ducking” Gustafsson a thing.

    Reports that Jones and Cormier nearly brawled outside the 2011 World MMA Awards are now the stuff of legend. In the immediate wake of this week’s booking, the two have already exchanged profane Twitter messages, and Jones got his daughter to go on Instagram and guarantee a victory.

    So I guess you could say this one is personal.

    In a perfect world, Jones and Cormier put on a fight for the ages at UFC 178 and Gustfasson heals in time to meet the winner around Super Bowl weekend 2015. But things are rarely perfect in MMA, and the circumstances surrounding this booking certainly don’t qualify.

    Perhaps the fight itself can be different.

    Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com

  • UFC 178: Daniel Cormier Creates an Interesting Dynamic Against Jon Jones

    Daniel Cormier is getting the title shot that he’s coveted for so long. The former Olympian will step in to face current light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, at UFC 178.

    Jones was set to face Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch of their 2013 bout, but the Swedish fighter was forced off of the card due to an injury. The UFC reported that Alexander suffered an injury to the meniscus in his right knee. This incident has created the opportunity for Cormier to step into the main event of the September 27 showcase.

    The changing of the main event creates an interesting dynamic within the light heavyweight division. The rematch between Jones and Gustafsson was one of the most anticipated fights in 2014. Gustafsson nearly defeated Jones at UFC 165, and many fans still believe he should have had his hand raised in victory.

    His victory over Jimi Manuwa in March placed him in the position to face Jones once again. However, to the dismay of MMA fans, Jones created a controversy by stating that he would rather face Cormier than Gustafsson (via ESPN). After a quick back and forth, the UFC was finally able to get the fight between Jones and Gustafsson booked for UFC 178 in Las Vegas.

    The injury bug has struck once again, though, and changed a fight that the UFC needed to create a strong event. Unlike UFC 176, which was recently cancelled due to Jose Aldo’s injury, UFC 178 will be able to go on since the light heavyweight division has the depth needed at a time like this.  

    Cormier is currently ranked No. 2 in the light heavyweight division by the UFC.  Even though he’s competed as a heavyweight for most of his career, he made it known that his intentions were to fight at 205 (via SB Nation).

    With his experience in wrestling, many believe that he has the tools to defeat Jones if they ever face off. The fight community is now just two months away from seeing if that prediction will come to fruition.

    Cormier has been able to dominate bigger men with his wrestling abilities. As a light heavyweight, he’s continued that trend within the Octagon. When he defeated Dan Henderson, a fellow Olympian, Cormier was able to take him down repeatedly without much restraint from the former two-division champion.

    According to statistics provided by Fight Metric, Gustafsson became the first opponent to take Jones down in his professional career. This creates an interesting question as to whether or not Jones will be able to defend Cormier’s takedowns.

    Cormier has effectively saved UFC 178 by replacing Gustafsson in the main event of the show. With the main event now reading Jones vs. Cormier, fight fans can stay excited about the upcoming event.

    Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com


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