UFC 187 Preview

ufc_187It is a busy weekend for the UFC as two title races will be solved while two more divisions see some of their top fighters put themselves in title contention.

The lightweight and heavyweight divisions will see top fighters face off in what could be a night that determines two new challengers.

Donald Cerrone looks to extend his seven fight win streak in the lightweight division against John Makdessi.

An eighth straight win will make it hard for the UFC to deny Cerrone a title fight while a win by Makdessi could push him into title contention by beating one of the best lightweights in the UFC.

In the heavyweight division Travis Browne takes on Andrei Arlovski with much the same title implications.

A win by the #3 ranked Browne could put him in line to fight for the title that will be determined next month while Arlovski could make a big jump in the division from #8 as he hopes to earn his second UFC title since winning the heavyweight title back in 2005.

Those fights are generally enough to be an exciting Fight Night card but at UFC 187 they are not even the main events.

The main event and co-main event will feature two title fights that have been a long time coming for the UFC.

First is the middleweight division where Vitro Belfort will finally get his chance to fight for the title against Chris Weidman, a fight that has been cancelled twice already.

After two injuries to the champion the fight has been delayed and Belfort has remained on the sidelines waiting for his shot.

Now they get to settle the score and determine who the best middleweight is and finally end the log jam that has been building in the division.

Even with that fight, UFC 187 has a bigger story that has dominated the headlines for the last two months.

That is largely because the UFC’s biggest star and the fighter that seemed to have the best chance of helping the UFC to the true mainstream crashed and burned leaving a gap in the UFC.

Jon Jones has long been seen as the man who can lead the UFC into the mainstream as a young personable fighter who has been one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC.

On a twelve fight win streak, Jones has been running through the light heavyweight division and slowly cleaning out any true challengers on his way to becoming one of the greatest of all times.

Then issues started to come out with Jones outside of the gym that started to ruin his reputation and tested the patience of the UFC.

In 2012 he ran his Bentley into a pole and later plead guilty to a DUI charge and was required install driver lock systems on his vehicles while also attending victim impact classes and paying a $1,000 fine.

It was a mistake but one that turned out to be a sign of the future as fans started to turn on him after declining to fight Chael Sonnen, a last-minute replacement, at UFC 151 forcing the UFC to cancel the card.

Then there have been the accusations of Jones poking opponents in the eye and his unapologetic response along with accusations of him writing homophobic slurs to a fan on Instagram.

All of this led up to this year with Jones still remaining a dominant champion but a bit of a contradiction outside of the octagon.

In January Jones failed a drug test before UFC 182 with benzoylecgonine, a main ingredient in cocaine, found in the test. He went on to beat Cormier at 182 after passing another test right before the fight.

He entered treatment but left after a day leading to a concern for his health and well-being.

Those worries came to light in April when it was reported that Jones had been involved in a hit and run incident that injured a pregnant woman. Jones reportedly fled the scene of the crash and a warrant went out for his arrest in what had become a felony.

Although Jones has not pled guilty or not guilty and has not been proven to be guilty the UFC decide that it was the final straw and they stripped him of the light heavyweight title.

That meant that his fight against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 was off but the title was still on the line with a familiar face and a young resurgent challenger.

The matchup remains a good one with Cormier getting a second shot at the title, albeit on short notice, and will take on one of the most powerful fighters in the UFC.

Cormier did not put up the greatest fight against Jones in his first title fight as the champion handed him a unanimous decision loss in his first MMA loss.mma-sidebar.fw

Now he gets a second chance and looks to put on a better display of his talents as he comes in already preparing for a fight but will need to adjust to a new opponent.

That opponent being Johnson who only came back into the UFC last year after he was cut for missing weight in the welterweight division.

With a new weight class Johnson has been on a roll showing his superior boxing and great power in beating Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Alexander Gustafsson.

He moved through top contenders earning knockouts in his last two fights, including his fight against Gustafsson, and earned a shot against Jones.

With Jones out Johnson remains in the title hunt but will take on a different fight with less tools than Jones.

Despite his limited tools, Cormier remains one of the best in the UFC with devastating wrestling that has stifled all but one opponent so far in his UFC career.

As a two-time Olympian Cormier is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC and has some powerful hands on the feet.

They won’t match the power of Johnson though making the safer bet to take Johnson to the ground where he has a good base but is not as good as Cormier.

It should be clear where both fighters want this fight especially when they were preparing for different fighters only a few short weeks ago.

They will try to go to their comfort zones as Johnson will look for a knockout win and Cormier will try to submit Johnson or grind out a decision win on the mat.

Every fight starts on the feet though and Johnson was already going to be a challenge in the stand-up for Jones.

His stand-up will be the difference in this fight as Cormier will get him down but ultimately Johnson will find Cormier’s chin in the later rounds to earn the knockout win and the light heavyweight title.

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