For months UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Daniel Cormier have engaged in a nasty, insult-laden war of words ahead of their title fight. It all started with the bout’s announcement and first media day in August, when Jones and Cormier went right in each other’s faces with Cormier shoving the champion and causing a melee much to the delight of the fans in attendance.
Later that day there was also the infamous off-air verbal tussle after their ESPN interview, with Jones threatening to kill Cormier if ever spat in his face.
And even in the final week leading up to UFC 182 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas Saturday, the two fighters and their respective entourages argued in the middle of a hotel lobby.
Both are also acutely aware of how UFC has used their perceived blood feud to fuel the mega-fight's build up.
"Them using that to promote fights, it doesn't surprise me," Jones said according to Newsday. "I'm just going to go with it. It's what I said, they're my quotes and I'll live with it."
Even though they’ve never faced each other in the ring before, the bout has the taste and feel of a rivalry that’s gone on for years, and now one will prove victorious after five rounds.
Jones enters the octagon with an 11-match winning streak, complete with seven title defenses over the last three years. The 27-year-old mixed martial artist called his last two fights against Glover Teixeira and Alexander Gustafsson the toughest of his career, and a win over Cormier could be his last before moving up to the heavyweight division.
Cormier puts his perfect 15-0 record on the line, though Jones represents only the fifth time the 35-year-old has fought in the UFC since moving over from Strike Force in April 2013. Blending martial arts with an accomplished Olympic wrestling style, Cormier has taken down some of the biggest UFC stars including Dan Henderson with a rear-naked choke submission and a decision over former champ Frank Mir in his debut.
But Cormier hasn’t quite faced an opponent as balanced and formidable as Jones. The Rochester, New York native has dispatched opponents via decision, knockout and submission, and technically would have an unblemished record if he wasn’t wrongfully disqualified for illegal elbow blows against Matt Hamill back in 2009.
Start Time: 11:59 P.M. ET or sooner, depending on the undercard results
PPV Info: To order UFC 182 head to UFC’s official site here for cable and satellite provider info
Betting Odds: Jones -190
Prediction: With his speed and agility, Jones can stay off the mat and neutralize Cormier’s wrestling skills for the decision.