Jones, Cormier Title Fight Delayed
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones’ eighth title defense will have to wait another three months after it was announced the champion had suffered a leg injury in training.
Jones had been scheduled to meet No. 1 challenger Daniel Cormier at UFC 178 in Las Vegas on September 27, but will be on the shelf for the next few months.
The pay-per-view event will now be headlined by UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Chris Cariaso, a bout that itself was subject to an injury delay.
Jones (20-1, 14-1 UFC) and Cormier (15-0, 4-0 UFC) went a long way to packing out the MGM Grand and scoring a big pay-per-view audience with their antics last week. Now fight fans will have to cool off as they wait for the two to lock horns.
Jones’ leg injury is deemed non-serious, and will only delay the bout until the New Year.
The UFC announced Tuesday that Cormier will now challenge Jones for the 205lbs strap at UFC 182, scheduled to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 3, 2015.
The decision to add the bout to the UFC 182 card is an interesting and somewhat controversial one.
The date represents the organization’s curtain-raising event for 2015. What better way to start the year than with your biggest star defending his title? But it also lends itself to two other serious questions.
Firstly, what does this mean for the previously scheduled main event?
Jones-Cormier will usurp a previously scheduled UFC lightweight title fight between Anthony Pettis (17-2, 2-1 UFC) and Gilbert Melendez (22-3, 1-1 UFC) as the main event.
That fight, scheduled to be Pettis’ first title defense since winning the championship from Benson Henderson on August 31, 2013, also serves as a coaches’ showdown for the upcoming 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Rather than make the January 3 event a supercard, the UFC has switched that bout to UFC 181, making it a co-main event alongside Chris Weidman’s 185lbs title defense against Vitor Belfort.
Once more the UFC seems wary of leaving an event wholly in Weidman’s hands, and once more the company seems to have shown little confidence in this year’s TUF season, which will see a UFC women’s strawweight champion crowned.
Secondly, where does that leave Alexander Gustafsson?
Jones was originally slated to defend his title against Alexander Gustafsson (16-2, 8-2 UFC), but a torn meniscus meant the top-ranked contender couldn’t make the September 27 date.
Gustafsson will be healed and ready to fight before the end of the year, so should the Swede – who has come closer to dethroning Jones than any other fighter – actually be reinserted into the title fight?
That scuffle between Jones and Cormier, and the words that followed, ensured that wouldn’t happen.
Gustafsson is left then waiting for the winner of January’s bout. If Jones is successful, history tells us he’ll have to wait a lot longer; Jones’ title defenses have become more and more sparse in recent years. If Cormier wins, the UFC will almost certainly book a rematch leaving Gustafsson in limbo for that much longer.
You can bet that Gustafsson, who sounded off on Facebook on Tuesday, is well aware of all of this and more.
The 125lbs title fight between Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1, 6-1-1 UFC) and Chris Cariaso (17-5, 7-3 UFC) had originally been scheduled to take place on August 2 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
As with Jones, Johnson suffered a non-serious injury in training and was forced to postpone his title defense. The decision, which came about a month before the pay-per-view, ultimately led to the cancellation of the event.
Johnson and Cariaso were then added to the UFC 177 card, scheduled for August 30, as a co-headline bout with the UFC bantamweight championship fight between defending champion T.J. Dillashaw (10-2, 6-2 UFC) and former champion Renan Barão (32-2-0 (1), 7-1 UFC).
Now the flyweights will get to headline an event themselves.
With Johnson a runaway favorite, the UFC is making sure there will be some solid supporting acts on the bill too.
UFC 178 is also scheduled to feature the returns of former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and Cat Zingano, the No. 1 contender in the women’s bantamweight division.
Cruz (19-1, 2-0 UFC) has been sidelined since October 2011, and relinquished his bantamweight title earlier this year. He’ll be looking to climb the ladder and hoping to earn a shot against the winner of Dillashaw- Barão.
Zingano (8-0, 1-0 UFC) meanwhile hasn’t stepped into the Octagon since April 2013, when she defeated Meisha Tate to earn a coaching spot on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. Injury meant the undefeated Zingano missed that bout and a shot at Ronda Rousey’s UFC women’s bantamweight championship.
A win over Amanda Nunes (9-3, 2-0 UFC) will almost certainly set up the eagerly-anticipated bout between the two standouts in the division.
The UFC 178 card will also feature a featherweight bout between fourth-ranked Dustin Poirier (16-3, 8-2 UFC) and ninth-ranked Connor McGregor (15-2, 3-0 UFC), riding high after a dominant performance in Dublin last month.
The UFC lands in Stephen King country this Saturday as UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. St. Preux comes live from Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine.
Betting Sports will have a preview of the event on Saturday morning.