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UFC 214 Picks

MMA Fight: UFC 214
Key Matches: Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II
When: Saturday, July 29, 2017
Time: 10:00PM EST
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, California

by Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Daniel Cormier, (+225), 19-1 (6 KOs, 6 Submissions) vs. Jon Jones, (-265), 22-1 (9 KOs, 6 Submissions)

Daniel Cormier defends his UFC Light Heavyweight Title against Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 214 on July 29 at the Honda Center in Anaheim. It's a rematch from Jon Jones' UFC 182 win over Cormier in January of 2015—a five round decision win for the challenger, who never lost his title in the cage. Personal issues have made it so Jones has fought just once since that win against Cormier over 2.5 years ago. Nothing would show he's back and ready to take over again like a win over Cormier in this fight. Since losing to Jones, Cormier has proven his championship merit with two submission wins over top-rated Anthony Johnson, in addition to wins over Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva. But something will always feel a bit empty about his title reign if he doesn't beat Jones. Any way you cut it, Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier II is a big fight in the sport's history.

While it makes no sense to bemoan what became of Jones lately, this fight serves as a cure-all—a chance to regain his title against a champion in Cormier who is considered very worthwhile, even if Jones has beaten him before. Jones, like so many fighters with off-the-chart talent, ended up being his own worst enemy. A positive test for cocaine before his win over Cormier was a bad sign and his car accident where his disappeared after injuring a pregnant woman seemed to suggest a fighter in peril personally. A failed PED test before his scheduled bout with Cormier at UFC 200 led to another suspension. Even as this is being written, recent events show we can't be that certain this fight will even take place.

By the same token, when you see and hear Jones speak, you don't necessarily get the idea that he's too far gone. He will have just turned 30 by the time he steps into the cage for his rematch with Cormier. Even with his troubles, he very well might already be the greatest MMA fighter who ever lived. He has beaten just about every relevant 205-pounder and before he got consumed with trouble, many were pegging him as a future champion at heavyweight.

This is not a sport that typically waits on people to straighten out their problems, however. Since Jones beat Gustafsson in 2013, he has fought three times. We are talking about a fighter who was at one time very active, even after he won the belt. Meanwhile, Cormier has been dusting off a collection of the best 205-pounders in the business. Even against a fighter who isn't a world-beater in Ovince Saint Preux in April 2016 in his most recent fight, Jones seemed a little off.

As far as the condition and form you can hope to see Jones in for this fight, there are two schools of thought. One is that age, rust, and even a still-growing body could render Jones less than the version in which we became accustomed. In other words, even great fighters lose their edge when on the sidelines for an extended period. Another theory is that Jones has put his issues aside and is committed to reclaiming his rightful place among the best in the sport. Maybe the truth will fall somewhere in-between.

Cormier, 38, is an easy guy to overlook. First of all, being the guy to occupy the role of UFC Light Heavyweight while Jones was out of action makes it easy for people to think he's not the real champ. But Jones' issues are not his fault and the results he has posted in the octagon suggest his title claims are a lot solider than just being a fill-in titleholder. Anthony Johnson was considered a threat to Jones, as well, and Cormier submitted him twice. With a win over Gustafsson, who gave Jones his hardest fight, he has shown he's up there with Jones in terms of qualifications. Alas, Jones holds that 2015 win over Cormier. And based on his positive drug test for coke, he may not have been the most-dedicated athlete at that point.

Even though Cormier's frame suggests he should be able to make 205 easier than Jones, recent developments suggest otherwise. There was some controversy as to whether he really made 205 pounds against Johnson in his last fight in April. He first achieved distinction in the sport based on his work in the heavyweight division. Escalating issues with making weight, combined with rising age isn't a recipe for success, necessarily. With Jones being a humongous 205-pounder and Cormier having recent issues paring down to 205, is it possible this weight cut will play a role?

Still, the most damning piece of evidence against Cormier's case here, naturally, is the result of their first fight. To say it was competitive would be fair. Jones certainly had to call on a lot of different things to assuage the challenge of the former amateur wrestling standout. But it wasn't one of those "could have gone either way" type of fights that make you think the challenger was on the verge of winning if not for a different twist of fate here or a better break there. I think it's fair to say Jones left a mark of superiority in that first fight—not an insurmountable one for Cormier perhaps, but still a detectable gap in overall quality.


Again, there is something to be said for activity and being in the mix in this sport. Just in April, Cormier was in a dangerous spot, forced to call upon his resources to beat the ultra hard-hitting Johnson. For Jones, he had one fight against a decent but not terribly-demanding contender in Saint Preux since January 2015. Of all sports, this is not the one where fighters can pop in and out and hope to do well. The sport evolves, different fighters get better, and by the time a fighter like Jones finds his way back to the cage, things have changed. And not for the better.

If there was a fighter who could overcome it, Jones would be the go-to pick. He messed up as a lot of people do in that 25-29 age range. But surely it has dawned on him that it would be a high-crime to squander his massive talents. And his preparation and mental outlook on this fight will reflect that. Cormier is indeed a fantastic fighter and if not for Jones being in there, you might be looking at the best 205-pounder to ever do it. But Jones is there, and unfortunately for Cormier, that means he doesn't get to be champion anymore. We're taking Jones.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Jon Jones at -265. Did you know... that you could be wagering on UFC fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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