This Saturday, we finally get the fight we have been waiting for. Jon Jones steps back inside the octagon to face a familiar foe in Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. These two square off in a UFC 214 card that is stacked with talent. At the end of the night, we could be talking about a redemption story, or making plans for a potential trilogy fight.
What some don’t understand however is what this fight truly means to both fighters. Jon Jones v. Daniel Cormier is not just about winning a title. Some say it’s about something more important on the line; pride. Others say it’s about both athletes getting a huge monkey off of their backs. First, check out the epic trailer for the fight and you’ll understand everything about what these two are fighting for.
For Jones (22-1), this is a fight that could make him whole again. It wasn’t that long ago that Jon “Bones” Jones was on top of the world, taking out everyone in his path. He was and still technically is one of the most polarizing athletes in MMA history. Unfortunately, he couldn’t beat his own personal demons. Controversy after controversy would haunt that man. From a DUI and a hit-and-run, to taking banned substances, the bright lights of fame seemed to be too much for Jones. Personally meeting him in Ithaca a few years ago, it is not surprising to hear about his troubles.
As our writers have stated before, this is Jon Jones’ chance at redemption. He can change the news cycle to make something positive of himself again. During the UFC 214 media conference call, he understands what he did wrong. He believes as a 23-year old he took it all in at once, which was his biggest mistake. You can see in the above video he said he would never want to harm the sports’ image. Reflecting on it, he truly meant it. Now, his mistakes are what inspires him to be a better athlete and a better human. Whether the latter is actually possible is up to him. During the call he stated:
“I think my story is gonna really inspire somebody else who has f*cked up. It’s gonna really inspire somebody else. To realize that it is not over. ‘Man, if Jon Jones can come back from the shit that he’s been through and ultimately win and be the champion he’s always been capable of being, [I can do it].’”
On the other side, you have Daniel Cormier (19-1), the man Jones beat to retain the title he once had at UFC 182. One of the best wrestlers in the company, Cormier will look to calm his emotions that helped him lose against Jones via unanimous decision. He will also try and prove that he can beat Jones at his own game. While Jones is the victim of his own problems, Cormier has done everything right. He has told Jones that time and time again, which has brought on some boos by fans. In the promo above, he stated that unless you give in and admit your demons, you can never overcome them. It is a true statement that has made Jones try and be a better man. That is the person Cormier has been waiting to face for a long time.
Injuries by Cormier have been piling up, and all he wants is a chance to fight Jones. When the fight between the two was cancelled at UFC 200, Cormier was visibly upset, and you can’t blame him. He has worked hard to prove why he is the rightful champion. I consider him one of the most under-appreciated fighters in UFC history. Fans have not embraced him as they have Jones. Maybe that’s because he is on commentary all the time, and fans are annoyed. It could also be due to the way he talks about Jones. The man embraces it however.
A pro wrestling fan himself, Cormier has accepted the role he is playing in this rivalry. He is a face to some and a heel to many. Both of these fighters have a rivalry that could be compared to The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Ultimately, that is something the UFC needs. Jon Jones v. Daniel Cormier is a story that is so heated, so personal, that you have no choice but to tune in every time they are on your TV.
Both fighters have an edge in this fight. While Jones seemed rusty against Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197, he has shown he can adapt to any environment. These two fighters will both look to take over via their wrestling game. If the old Jones comes out at UFC 214, Cormier is in big trouble. At 38, Cormier needs to have an early advantage. Is time running out for the champion? He feels great and is looking for that trilogy fight. For all we know, that could be at Madison Square Garden in November, the New Years show, or late next year.
If Jones wins, he can flip the script. With a Cormier win, he has validation as a great fighter and a credible champion. If this bout is to actually happen (knowing the troubles of both fighters), it will be one that fans will be remembering for a long time. This fight means more to these two men than anything they’ve ever accomplished. At the end of the day, it’s all about who wants it more. A new chapter begins at UFC 214, how will it be written?