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USA Today

This is the one we've all been waiting for.

After one change in opponent and a bevy of knee surgeries, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will finally defend his title against Daniel Cormier on Saturday at UFC 182.

Are we stoked? Dude, we're more than stoked. What comes after stoked? 

If Jones-Cormier even halfway-kinda lives up to the hype, we might see Fight of the Year honors wrapped up during the very first event of 2015. The rest of the card ain't too shabby, either.

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USA Today

Controversy, as always, is swirling around Jon Jones (20-1). On Thursday, it was a hallway war of words. What it will be tomorrow, no one can say.

The UFC light heavyweight champion has managed to stuff a career's worth of drama into just a few short months in the lead up to his fight Saturday with two-time Olympian Daniel Cormier, a fight that will, finally, bring one of MMA's greatest feuds to a close.

The bad blood started years ago with Jones' offhand claim he could take Cormier to the mat. Cormier, a proud wrestling legend, was not amused. That was the beginning. But the two were separated, at the time, by a weight class and by promotional boundaries. Nothing came of it except simmering anger.

It began in earnest last August with a scuffle at a pre-fight media appearance, a dustup that included a tumble off the hastily constructed stage, a terrified UFC PR flack and even a thrown shoe.

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Aaron Sweet/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Of the many UFC "rivalries" over the years, 98 percent of them are fake, created out of thin air for the purpose of selling pay-per-views.

We have heard endless stories of fighters who hate each other, only to see them hug after the fight and admit they were just trying to sell it. Fans are jaded when it comes to these kinds of things, and rightly so, because they have been burned before and expect to be burned again.

But when it comes to Saturday's UFC 182 main event between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, they can rest assured that the hatred is 100 percent real.

This should be obvious to anyone who saw Jones and Cormier's faceoff devolve into a wild brawl in the lobby of the MGM Grand last summer. That moment created a sense of anticipation that arrives whenever Jones and Cormier are scheduled to face off again.

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Getty Images

Jon Jones is the greatest mixed martial arts fighter in the history of the sport. A combination of carefully honed skill and innate physical tools, he's run roughshod over one of the UFC's glamour divisions.

Besides a struggle with Alexander Gustafsson in a fight he eventually won, there's been no sign that Jones will relinquish his title any time soon. In fact, if anything, it's been too easy for the young prodigy. After seven successful defenses, Jones, and the audience, have seemingly grown a little comfortable. 

Olympian Daniel Cormier, however, is the kind of man to knock you right out of your comfort zone.

When Jones enters the cage to defend his UFC light heavyweight belt, it will be more than just a typical title fight. Cormier has the physical gifts and specific skill set to give Jones a real test, to push the young champion just as he comes into his physical prime. 

Jon Jones' Secret Weapon

By on January 1, 2015

62,481 reads

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Brandon Gibson says the first time he studied film on Daniel Cormier, he was in a truck stop outside Amarillo, Texas.

It was mid-summer, and Gibson was on his way home from visiting family in Ohio. He was nearing the end of the marathon drive back to Albuquerque when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones called with breaking news. Top contender Alexander Gustafsson was out of their UFC 178 bout with a knee injury. Now, Jones would fight Cormier instead.

Gibson was somewhere out on I-40 when he found out all the work they’d put in preparing to rematch the lanky, 6-foot-5 kickboxer would go to waste. The way he tells the story—and certainly he’s paraphrasing—his response to learning Gustafsson would be replaced by the stocky, undefeated former Olympic wrestler was two words.

“All right.”

If anything, maybe that’s Gibson in a nutshell—serene exterior, calculated, a little bit zen—but inside, his trainer’s brain was already spinning. The next time he pulled over for gas and discovered the roadside truck stop had Wi-Fi, he slipped out his phone to see what he could see on the new opponent.

The Olympian

By on December 31, 2014

105k reads

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Photo courtesy Daniel Cormier

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Daniel Cormier slumps in a metal folding chair. He leans his head back, blood pouring from his nose. A cutman shoves Q-tips up his left nostril in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

Moments earlier, Cormier was in a cage at American Kickboxing Academy. After going three rounds with a near 300-pound super heavyweight, Cormier was sparring with a very small middleweight. He was exhausted but mostly frustrated that he couldn't catch his speedy sparring partner.

He went one way, the middleweight went the same way, and the end result was Cormier dripping blood all over the floor.

His nose is not broken, which is a relief. He has traveled great distances to get to this point, and an injury would be heart-wrenching. He came from Lafayette, Louisiana, making stops at Oklahoma State and the United States Olympic team. And now, he's preparing to face Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship Saturday in Las Vegas at UFC 182.

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USA Today

Daniel Cormier has made a lot of smart choices during the extended lead-up to Saturday night's UFC 182 clash against Jon Jones.

You could argue, in fact, that the undefeated former U.S. Olympic wrestling team captain has yet to make a wrong turn during his five-year MMA career. Certainly, Cormier's impressive amateur credentials had him set for success all along, but he's also been savvy and thoughtful enough to cop to a certain amount of cold, hard pragmatism.

He was already 30 years old when he made his MMA debut in 2009 and will be just two-and-a-half months shy of turning 36 when he tangles with Jones on Saturday. Cormier knows full well that the clock is ticking on his athletic prime and that this fight may well represent his last best chance both to win a world title and make a lot of money in the process.

His distaste for all things "Bones" Jones is obviously very real, but we'd be foolish not to acknowledge that these two guys have also put on a masterclass in fight promotion during the last six months or so—they both probably know exactly what they're doing.

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Bleacher Report lead mixed martial arts writers Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter have decided to band together—much like The Avengers or the Mega Powers, except better looking and with no tights—and tackle important questions facing the MMA world. Welcome to The Question

First up: Can Daniel Cormier shock the world and end the reign of the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?

Jonathan: I've been on the Jon Jones bandwagon since it first started taking passengers. To the chagrin of many, I called him the best fighter the sport had ever seen. Not controversial at all today. Groundbreaking in 2011—and he's only gotten better.

Jones is a five-tool fighter. He has the wrestling prowess, sturdy ground game, striking from distance and clinch work to compete with the world's best in each category. Add a legitimate mean streak and an unquenchable will to win and you're left with an athlete seemingly destined to lord over the sport for years to come.

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USA Today

These are the times we should all hold dear.

Six months from now, if things go south again and 2015 turns into a repeat of this year's drudgery, MMA fans will look back in awe at Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier.

The extended lead-up to Saturday night's UFC 182 main event has been pure pleasure, with Jones and Cormier establishing themselves as one of the greatest pairings in our sport's short history.

At this point, their actual fight will merely be the icing on the cake.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — In the basement of the Ultimate Fighting Championship office on Sahara Avenue is a gym. It is filled to overflowing with weights and mirrors, but there is also a boxing ring, speed bags and other various fight gear.

The gym is ostensibly designed for employee use, but what you'll often find in the gym are fighters who come to town for media engagements and need a place to work out. A select few—the Conor McGregors of the world, for example—are allowed to work out in Lorenzo Fertitta's private gym at the Red Rock casino. The rest are consigned to the basement.

The basement is where I find Myles Jury, a UFC lightweight tasked with the biggest opportunity of his career when he faces the popular Donald Cerrone in the co-main event of UFC 182 this weekend. Jury has just finished an intensive workout. He is bright red, and he is sweating everywhere. He asks if he can have a few minutes to take a shower before our scheduled appointment, and I tell him yes, this is a good idea.

Thirty minutes later, Jury joins me upstairs in a UFC conference room. I tell him that I won't spend very much time asking him about the fight with Cerrone, and he laughs. In the years since I began covering mixed martial arts, I have discovered that it is mostly a terrible idea to ask fighters how their camp is going, or how they plan on beating their upcoming opponent, or how their weight cut is going. They've repeated the answers to these questions so many times that they are automatic. They are not answers. They are reactions. They are instinct.