By Thomas Casale
UFC 214: Jones vs. Cormier 2Saturday, July 29th Ė 10:00 p.m. ET
Jon Jones (22-1) vs. Daniel Cormier (19-1)Five Round Light Heavyweight Title Fight
Line: Jones -265, Cormier +225
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will battle for the Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 214 on July 29th. The much-anticipated rematch has been more than two years in the making. Jones defeated Cormier by unanimous decision at UFC 182 in January of 2015. The two were scheduled to meet again at UFC 200 but Jones was forced to withdraw from the fight after he failed a drug test.
Current champion Cormier and former titleholder Jones are clearly the top two light heavyweights in the world right now. Cormierís only career loss came against Jones and since the defeat heís won four straight fights. Cormierís last win was a dominant second-round submission victory over Anthony Johnson.
Jones has never really lost in the Octagon. His lone blemish came when he was disqualified for throwing illegal elbows in The Ultimate Fighter Finale versus Matt Hamill. Alexander Gustafsson is the only fighter to ever push Jones. Bones easily disposed of Cormier in their first meeting; frustrating his rival to the point where Cormier even cried after the fight.
Since that loss though, Cormier has beaten Anderson Silva, Gustafsson and Johnson twice. Cormier can sometimes be criticized for grinding out wins with his wrestling, but heís finished 12 of his 20 career fights. Cormier averages 3.78 significant strikes per minute. Heís also an accurate striker. Cormier connects on close to 50 percent of his significant strikes.
Cormierís striking will be a key factor in this matchup because Jones possesses one of the best takedown defenses in the UFC. Bones defends 95 percent of takedowns. He completely negated Cormierís wrestling in the first meeting. Cormier defends 78 percent of takedowns but Jones took him down three times.
Jones was the most dominant fighter in the sport until issues outside of the Octagon derailed his career. He has only fought once since beating Cormier; that was an uninspiring unanimous decision win over Ovince Saint Preux. Even though Jones has just one fight since early 2015, heís still a significant -265 favorite over Cormier because of his unmatched physical skills.
Jones averages 4.25 significant strikes per minutes. He has an accuracy rate of over 55 percent. Jones also averages 2.25 takedowns and he has an 84-inch reach. That gives Jones a 12-inch reach advantage over Cormier. His long arms bothered Cormier in the first fight. Jones out-struck him 92-to-58.
Jones became the first fighter to ever take Cormier down. Cormier has only been taken down six times (three by Jones) in 20 career fights. Jonesí takedown defense is as good as any fighter in the UFC. This fight will likely take place mainly on the feet and be decided by striking. If thatís the case, it will favor Jones, even with him returning from a long layoff.
If Cormier can find a way to get inside, negate the reach advantage, clinch, and make Jones work harder, Bones could tire in the later rounds. Cormier has excellent cardio. Jones does as well but this is where the layoff could become a factor. Cormier needs to push the pace like he did early in the first fight before Jones started frustrating him with his reach if he wants to pull the upset at UFC 214.
Itís still hard to bet against Jones though. He does everything well. Jones is a devastating striker, strong wrestler and heís virtually impossible to control on the ground. So far, the only person who has figured out a way to beat Jon Jones is Jon Jones.