Outside of its lightweight champion fitting himself with bigger gloves and longer odds and stepping into a boxing ring next month, the UFC is bringing its hottest fight to Anaheim.
Put aside the light middleweight boxing match between UFC superstar Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. next month in Las Vegas. The light heavyweight championship rematch between champion Daniel Cormier (19-1) and former champion Jon Jones (22-1) is the UFC’s biggest fight of the year, and UFC 214 at Honda Center has been bolstered with two other title fights and several key matchups.
Bones is Back
One of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters and most controversial figures in MMA history returns to the Octagon for the first time in more than 15 months. Twice, Jon “Bones” Jones has been stripped of a UFC light heavyweight title (one interim). Twice, Jones has been suspended for a year — the last time a result of a positive drug test that blew up his fight against Cormier just three days before UFC 200 last July. Yet only once has he lost, and that was early in his UFC career when he was disqualified for illegal elbows in a fight he was easily winning. Which Jon Jones shows up at Honda Center?
Can Cormier Overcome?
The light heavyweight champion gets to avenge the only loss of his career against the only MMA fighter to take him down. The former world-class wrestler has beaten some former champs and big names at 205 pounds — Dan Henderson, Anthony Johnson twice, Alexander Gustafsson and Anderson Silva (granted, on two days’ notice vs. a much lighter Silva — and at heavyweight — Antonio Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson. Beating Jones would be his greatest victory in a decorated combat sports career.
UFC returns to OC
Anaheim will be hosting its seventh UFC card, tying Newark for third among U.S. cities to have hosted a UFC event, trailing only Atlantic City (8) and, of course, Las Vegas (111). The UFC hasn’t been at the Honda Center since Feb. 23, 2013, when Ronda Rousey defended the bantamweight title awarded to her with a first-round armbar submission of Liz Carmouche in the first women’s fight in UFC history.
UFC 214 Press Conference
When: 1 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Novo by Microsoft, 800 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
Dana White – UFC President
Daniel Cormier – UFC light heavyweight champion
Jon Jones – former UFC light heavyweight
Tyron Woodley – UFC welterweight champion
Demian Maia – No. 1 UFC welterweight contender
Cris Cyborg – UFC women’s featherweight title challenger
Tonya Evinger – UFC women’s featherweight title challenger
Saturday, Honda Center
Main card (7 p.m., PPV)
Prelim card (5 p.m., FXX)
Early prelims (3:30 p.m., UFC Fight Pass)