UFC 182 Preview

UFC_182_Jones_vs._Cormier_PosterThe UFC returns for another year of fights and they are kicking things off with what could be the biggest fight of the year. That is hard to say since it is also the first fight of the year and there is plenty of time for big matchups. What makes this possibly different from all of them is the true hate between the main event fighters. This fight was supposed to take place a lot earlier until everything seemed to go wrong for the UFC. First it was the rematch that everyone wanted to see as Jon Jones was set to defend his Light Heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson for the second time. The first time was the closest fight that Jones had ever been involved in but he pulled out the win, even though some may say Gustafsson won the fight due to the damage he inflicted on Jones. That fight was cancelled when Gustafsson was hurt training and in his place came the undefeated Daniel Cormier. Many expected him to be the next challenger for the title and since he began fighting in light heavyweight division he has been calling out Jones. The fight was set between two very good fighters in a match that many didn’t see Jones winning too easily. As they began their press tour for the fight the hate began to grow. At the press conference it exploded as Cormier shoved Jones and Jones shoved back in what evolved to an all-out fight. The months following the press conference both fighters were on multiple talk show where they continued to trash talk. With Cormier claiming Jones was fake and jones showing a different personality when he though he was off camera than on camera the buzz built for the fight. Then Jones hurt his knee and the fight was off with the fans not able to see one of the biggest build ups of the year. With Cormier waiting for the fight and not taking anything else the match it back on for the start of 2015. There has been plenty of talk between these two fighters and now they finally get to take it all out in the octagon. That is, after all, one of the best things about MMA as enemies get to solve their issues one on one. That is exactly what will take place on Saturday when the Jones defends his belt against Cormier while both could bury the hatchet, although possibly not. The matchup is an interesting one for Jones who has run through almost anyone in the division. The closest fight was against Gustafsson thanks, largely to the reach of Gustafsson being able to challenge Jones. Cormier does not have that advantage as he stands 5’11” with a reach of 72.5” as opposed to Jones who stands at 6’4” with an 84.5” reach. The reach difference does not mean that Cormier is at an entire disadvantage though as he is one of the biggest challenges for Jones. The challenge comes mostly from the wrestling ability of Cormier. Jones has a wrestling background but Cormier is a former USA national team member and has shown his ability to take almost anyone down. That is what Cormier will look to do in this fight as he will attempt to unleash his great ground and pound on Jones. He has the knockout power to end a night quickly but with the reach disadvantage he will be better served taking the fight to the ground and using his power on the mat. Meanwhile Jones will try to do what he has done for the last few years and use his creative striking to keep Cormier on his toes. If Jones can keep it standing he will be better off than taking this fight to the ground. He can bring shots from anywhere and is one of the most creative strikers in the UFC. Using that to his advantage will be the smarter choice for jones as his best bet is to keep the fight standing. If he can do this he is sure to have the advantage and as with any fight it all starts standings. Jones will defend his belt but it will be his toughest test yet as he takes a Split Decision win setting up another fight between these two in 2015.

The main event will take all of the focus at the first fight of the year but once again a lightweight fight will be the co-main event. The theme of the 2014 fight season was the talent in the lightweight division and it doesn’t seem to be changing to start 2015. The lightweight division has constantly been a focus in fight cards as the UFC attempts to figure out the most talented division. With Anthony Pettis defending his belt against Gilbert Melendez there is a vacancy at the top of the division. Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently filling the top spot in the division but Donald Cerrone will look to put his own name in the conversation for the next contender. With a fight against Nurmagomedov cancelled due to an injury to the Russian Cerrone did not get the chance to fight for the top contender. He will get his chance to at least enter the conversation and possibly earn another shot at Nurmagomedov for the #1 contender sport. In his way is Myles Jury who will look for his own marquee win by beating the #4 ranked Cerrone. A win would continue his 15-0 start to his career and is sure to bring him in to the title conversation. Both fighters come in to a new year trying to make 2015 their year and to do that they will need to take a win in their first fight of the year. For both fighters it is a chance to put their best foot forward in a year where either of them could easily earn a title shot but a loss could put their plans backwards for the year. It should be an interesting matchup as well with both fighters representing very well-rounded backgrounds. Neither fighter will feel uncomfortable wherever the fight goes in what could be a very even fight. No matter who wins this fight will set the tone for the lightweight division in 2015 as it will likely remain the best division as Jury and Cerrone look to prove it in their co-main event fight.

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