Sports

MMA

UFC 214: Cormier-Jones should be good — if it happens

By Daniel Austin, Calgary Sun

Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones (Getty Images)

Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones (Getty Images)

DALLAS — Fans can be forgiven if they don’t fully believe it’s happening until both men are standing in the cage.

However, the UFC is giving a rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones another try.

The two light-heavyweight titans took to the stage on Friday to promote the 205-pound title fight at UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif., and it was clear as day the rivalry still runs as hot as ever.

While a fight between Cormier and Jones will surely rank among the most-anticipated matches of 2017, the rivalry has a long history of cancelled fights, something Cormier acknowledged while trash talking and playing to the Texas crowd.

“I’m sitting here and like, I see him, he’s over there, but is he really going to be in Anaheim? Is this guy really going to be able to fight?” Cormier asked rhetorically. “Is this guy going to mess this up again with steroids, or doing cocaine? ... What’s this guy going to do to mess this up this time?”

Jones being Jones, he responded simply: “I’ve beaten you after a weekend of cocaine," he said, referring to the duo's first fight at UFC 182 in January 2015, after which Jones tested positive for cocaine.

It was a good line in a press conference filled with colour. The Jones-Cormier rivalry tends to produce promotional gold. They genuinely hate each other, have thrown punches and talk trash with vitriol that’s a million miles away from Conor McGregor’s made-for-TV soundbites.

They also happen to be the two best light-heavyweights of their generation, and arguably two of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in UFC history.

Jones was the champion for years, while Cormier laid claim to his belt by beating Anthony Johnson when issues outside the octagon caught up to Jones.

The only problem? We’ve seen it all so many times before.

The July booking marks the fifth time Jones and Cormier have been scheduled to fight. So far, they’ve stepped into the octagon only once.

The last time the pair had plans, the bout was supposed to headline 2016's massive UFC 200 card, only to get cancelled when Jones tested positive for a banned substance three days before fight day.

With that in mind, the UFC and fight fans around the world will be waiting in nervous anticipation for this fight.

It’s a blockbuster if it happens, but we’ve all been burned too many times to fully invest in the fight until the bell rings and Jones and Cormier are actually throwing bombs at each other.

STEALING THE SHOW

Jones and Cormier certainly weren't the only fighters spitting hot fire at Friday’s press conference.

Everyone from Michael Johnson and former WSOF champion Justin Gaethje were using their time on the microphone to talk all sorts of trash, but it was Kevin Lee and Michael Chiesa who provided the wildest moment.

Lee, a lightweight who has shown real potential and was participating in his first big UFC press conference, took to the stage in an elaborate black and white bandana-shirt ensemble and proceeded to rip into Chiesa.

Chiesa countered well, but lost it when Lee mentioned his mother, who will be in attendance at their fight in Oklahoma City on June 25.

Chiesa charged across the stage at Lee, who bounced up from his seat and landed a right-handed punch before the two were dragged off-stage by security.

There will surely be repercussions for both fighters, as trash talk is encouraged by the UFC but athletic commissions tend to come down hard on athletes who actually get violent outside of the octagon.

Either way, though, Lee and Chiesa got their names out there and got people talking, which is more than most fans would have expected at a press conference where they were sharing the spotlight with some of the promotion's biggest stars.

AROUND THE OCTAGON

Right before the press conference, Cody Garbrandt posted to social media that he needed a back procedure — not sure what type of procedure, exactly — which puts his UFC 213 fight against T.J. Dillashaw in jeopardy. The bantamweight champion is getting a serious push from the UFC and that July headlining date would have been a massive showcase for his skills. Fight fans will have their fingers crossed, hoping Garbrandt recovers quickly … With all of this talk about trash talk and bad blood, it’s worth noting that the Dallas crowd gave a huge ovation to Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum for their sportsmanship. The middleweights are scheduled to fight on July 22 on Long Island, N.Y., and were completely respectful to one another. That stood out on Friday and the crowd responded well … Credit should also go to Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who sat beside Jones and just smiled as the craziness unfolded around her. She was forced to sit next to McGregor in the lead-up to UFC 205, so she has some experience handling the ridiculousness … Maybe it’s not surprising, but Johnson did not appreciate being asked whether he was a “gatekeeper” to the UFC in his fight with Gaethje … With most of this summer’s main events announced, it’s only a matter of time before September’s UFC pay per view in Edmonton begins to take shape. Expect some new Canadian names to be included.

daustin@postmedia.com


UFC 211 FIGHT CARD

Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos, heavyweight championship

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade, strawweight championship

Demian Maia vs. Jorge Masvidal

Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez

Krzysztof Jotko vs. David Branch

Preliminary card

Eddie Alvarezz vs. Dustin Poirier

Chas Skelly vs. Jason Knight

Chase Sherman vs. Rashad Coulter

James Vick vs. Marco Polo Reyes

Jessica Aguilar vs. Courtney Casey

Gabriel Benitez vs. Enrique Barzola

Joachim Christensen vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov