When I first learned that the new main event of UFC 200 is the rematch between UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier would face interim titleholder Jon “Bones” Jones, I immediately borrowed a phrase from the wise sage Commissioner James Gordon.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II is the main event that UFC 200 needed. Cormier vs. Jones II is the main event UFC 200 deserves.
I’ve talked about some of my gripes with McGregor v. Diaz II being the initial UFC 200 main event.
– The fight just happened as Diaz submitted McGregor in the second round at UFC 196.
– While McGregor is the featherweight champion, his match with Diaz would be a non-title bout – like the first one.
McGregor was the king of the MMA media world with the drama that revolved around his relationship with the UFC, his lack of participation in press conferences and his on-again, off-again retirement. Folks didn’t think the UFC had the gall to take McGregor off UFC 200 but the promotion decided to move on without the Irish champion and give what should be a great main event.
I understand that fighters like McGregor are asked to go above-and-beyond their duties as competitors and promote the fights. However, McGregor wasn’t the only UFC fighter who had to go to the press conference. Other fights like Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo – who will co-headline UFC 200 in an interim title bout – were at the press conference, as was women’s bantamweight champion Miesha “Cupcake” Tate and her opponent Amanda Nunes. Diaz, who will no longer fight at UFC 200, also made the press conference.
I’m sure we’ll get McGregor v. Diaz II another day. But for now, let’s bask in the excitement that comes with the quality of a rematch between Jones and Cormier.
Skill-wise you have two of perhaps the best fighters in the 205-pound division. Both Jones and Cormier are great wrestlers, have solid striking and can take a lot of punishment. Cormier has a lot of power in his hands while Jones is more unorthodox when it comes to his striking. He’s also got a sick reach.
They also come from great camps and train with some of the best fighters and coaches in the world.
But what’s bigger is the story between the two men going into this fight.
For Cormier, this is his chance to prove he is the undisputed UFC light champion. After Jones was stripped of the title following the ramifications of when he fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident, Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson to win the title. He successfully defended the belt against Alexander Gustafsson but there was always that shadow of Jones waiting in the wings.
As for Jones, this is his big chance for redemption. Since his suspension he’s worked to build a better life for himself and has completed the required community service. There was the recent incident with the police officer, but some folks say the law enforcement official went to farr.
Jones returned to the octagon last weekend and grinded out a decision over Ovince Saint Preux to claim the interim light heavyweight title. Now he’s got a chance to reclaim the belt that was taken away from him – and he gets to do it against a man whom he has a lot of animosity with and has already beaten. The two faced off in 2015 where Jones earned the decision win in what was a “Fight of the Night.”
The rivalry between these two goes back to when Cormier still fought at heavyweight. He repeatedly called out Jones over social media and in interviews. Before their UFC 182 fight, the two engaged in a brawl during a press conference – the first time two fighters traded fists outside of the cage in front of press and cameras.
The verbal jabs between Jones and Cormier haven’t slowed down since their first fight, which will make the build up to this rematch one for the ages.
Some folks are probably upset with McGregor not fighting at UFC 200 – and it’s a shame that Diaz doesn’t get to compete on the card, though if he wants to take a vacation I’m cool with that.
But I’m also excited for the Cormier vs. Jones rematch. It’s got the makings of a slobberknocker.