Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Kristian Ibarra@@kristian_ibarraFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2014

Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Rarely does an event force would-be spectators to take part in an alternate reality, one that inexplicably forces the hands of time to decelerate, lengthening each passing day in its wake. 

    But here we stand a mere six days away from the end of said reality, six days ahead of one of the most anticipated bouts in recent memory between two of the very best fighters the UFC's light heavyweight division has ever had to offer. In the red corner stands Jon Jones, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter the planet has ever seen. In the blue corner stands Daniel Cormier, the man most of us have been led to believe is the biggest threat Jones' title reign has ever seen. 

    They don't seem to like each other, but we don't mind. In fact, that's probably a big part of the reason most of us will willingly fork over whatever price the UFC will demand as the world gets ready to meet its rightful 205-pound king. 

    Read on as we break down each major aspect of the title bout before predicting the winner.

Striking

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Yes, Cormier's striking has grown leaps and bounds since we first saw him step into the Strikeforce cage (against Gary Frazier in 2009). He's no longer that small, awkward-looking heavyweight afraid of throwing kicks inside of competition. 

    But even in all his newfound kicking glory, he's no Jonesnot even close. 

    He may not possess the sort of heavy-handed knockout power that his smaller counterpart does, but Jones has enough in his warehouse of weapons to keep his opponent at bay. 

    He used his second-story front kicks to stop Mauricio "Shogun" Rua from getting too comfortable with the crown. He used his oblique kicks to stop Quinton "Rampage" Jackson from re-emerging as the division's best. He used his game-changing standing elbow strikes to prove himself the best light heavyweight fighter that ever came out of Jackson's MMA when he defeated former training partner and friend Rashad Evans. 

    Cormier's capacity as a masterful wrestler may impede upon the champion's creativity on the feet, but don't bet on Jones to look like a fish out of water when he steps in the cage at UFC 182

    Edge: Jones

Grappling

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    This is where things start getting interesting—really, really interesting. 

    For as much as Jones has been capable of keeping his opponents at arm's reach with his unorthodox striking, he was—and still is—one of the better wrestlers the sport has ever seen. 

    Problem is, Cormier might just be the best wrestler the sport has ever seen. Between his ability to lift a heavier Josh Barnett overhead, bully a more experienced Frank Mir against the cage or smother a past-his-prime Dan Henderson against the mat, it's safe to say that Cormier won't be losing any sleep because of his wrestling ineptitude. 

    That's what typically happens when you've got a guy who's spent most of his life dedicated to perfecting a craft that brought him to the pinnacle of human athletics. 

    There's little doubt as to who the better wrestler is in this one, but it'll be interesting to see if the challenger is better enough to create any sort of waves. 

    Edge: Cormier

Submissions

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    He was the first man to submit Ryan Bader. He was the first man to submit Lyoto Machida. He was the first man under the UFC banner to submit Rampage. He may not hold a traditional black belt under anybody's tutelage, but that doesn't seem to have disrupted Jones' competence in making some of the manliest men on the planet beg for an end to the pain. 

    But Cormier is no slouch. It's pretty safe to say he'd rather knock his opponents out, but that doesn't mean he's opposed to the idea of making them tap. 

    Interestingly enough, both fighters have submitted opponents when having top advantage. We've yet to see what Jones or Cormier are capable of doing when fighting off of their back, which we're bound to see at least one of them do at some point Saturday night. 

    Edge: Jones 

X-Factors

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Cormier: Heavyweight Experience

    Many of Jones' supporters would be quick to point a finger to the champion's height and overall reach as to why they believe he will reign supreme. Most of Cormier's supporters would be wise to point toward Cormier's past experience, particularly his time spent as a dominant (but woefully undersized) heavyweight in both the Strikeforce and UFC cage.

    But even while conceding four inches of height and eight inches of reach to Frank Mir, or giving up five inches of height and 11 inches of reach to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, Cormier's found ways to remain undefeated as a professional mixed martial artist. 

    Jones: Unparalleled Reach

    While Cormier's gotten used to duking it out with men much larger than he, we can't ignore the fact that that he has yet to step into the cage against anybody remotely similar in both size and skill to Jones. Simply put, Jones is the only man who's been gifted with both a paramount advantage and the competence to make use of said advantage. 

    Jones often makes his opponents swing and miss much like little brother always would against big brother. With his 12-inch reach advantage (84.5" to Cormier's 72.5", according to recent UFC measurements), Jones will likely find a way to keep Cormier looking for a means of putting fist to face against the champion. 

Prediction

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Authoring a spotless 15-0 record, Cormier has long been on the hunt for the man to play his equal. Oddly enough, so has Jones. 

    It's fair to paint Cormier's grappling abilities as strong enough to impede Jones' creativity in the stand-up department. Jones' many strengths have always leaned on the idea that his own wrestling was a safety net for all of the creative straight elbows and spinning back kicks he wanted to throw. 

    But while Jones may be without the oblique kicks and front kicks for fear of seeing his leg represent the opening act to Cormier's master plan, he still has plenty of quality tools left in his toolbox to get the job done. 

    It may not be easy. It probably won't be. But as Jones proved to his many faithful supporters against Alexander Gustafsson in 2013, he doesn't always have to make it look easy.

    Prediction: Jones via unanimous decision

    Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University's student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.

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