The return of one of MMA’s greatest fighters and hottest feuds is coming to Anaheim.
Ten months after their highly anticipated rematch was called off, Jon Jones will step back into the Octagon to try to reclaim his light heavyweight championship from Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 on July 29 at Honda Center.
Tickets go on sale June 9.
UFC president Dana White made the fight announcement, along with other significant matchups this summer, on Friday in Dallas on the eve of UFC 211.
Notably missing from the touted bouts was any mention of a women’s featherweight title match featuring Brazilian phenom Cris Cyborg. The former Invicta FC champion, who fights out of Huntington Beach, has been campaigning for a championship fight in her backyard at UFC 214, whether it’s against inaugural UFC 145-pound champion Germaine de Randamie or current Invicta FC champion Megan Anderson.
On May 1, Cyborg and Anderson verbally agreed to a showdown last week during a taping of “The MMA Hour” hosted by Ariel Helwani, but the UFC has not scheduled the fight.
The only other fight scheduled for UFC 214 is a featherweight matchup between 13th-ranked Doo Ho Choi (14-2) of South Korea and Andre Fili (16-4), who fights out of Sacramento.
The Jones-Cormier storyline has more twists and turns than a roller coaster.
The two were supposed to square off for the second time in a UFC 200 main event last July before it was called off three days before the fight because Jones had violated the UFC’s anti-doping policy. Though an arbitration panel ruled Jones had not taken the banned substances — clomiphene, an anti-estrogenic substance, and letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor — intentionally, Jones was suspended for a year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Cormier (19-1), 38, was looking to avenge his only MMA loss after he challenged Jones for the title in early 2015 and lost a unanimous decision (49–46, 49-46, 49-46) at UFC 182. Three days after their fight, the UFC announced Jones had tested positive for a cocaine metabolite.
Jones (22-1), 29, has not fought in 13 months after winning a unanimous decision over Ovince St. Preux at UFC 197 to claim the interim light heavyweight title, which was created after an injury caused Cormier to pull out of their planned rematch and St. Preux filled in for Cormier.
Jones had been stripped of his light heavyweight belt a year before because of a hit-and-run incident in New Mexico, the latest in a series of controversies involving Jones that proved too much for the UFC to stomach.
Cormier, who became the 205-pound champion when he choked out Anthony Johnson in May 2015 to claim Jones’ vacated title, has since beaten Alexander Gustafsson (split decision), last-minute UFC 200 replacement and former middleweight champion Anderson Silva (unanimous decision in a non-title match) and Johnson again (rear-naked choke) last month.
What remains to be seen is whether in the buildup for UFC 214 we will see another ugly brawl like the one in 2014 during a promotional appearance for their first scheduled fight at UFC 178. As they faced off in a Las Vegas hotel lobby, Jones pressed his forehead against Cormier’s, which led to Cormier shoving Jones by the throat. A wild melee ensued, with the fighters and UFC officials tumbling off the stage in what was an embarrassing moment for the fight promotion. Both fighters were fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Their UFC 178 fight, of course, never took place because Jones suffered an injury in training several days later.
Jones became the UFC’s youngest titleholder at 23 years, 242 days with his TKO of Mauricio Rua in March 2011. He held the UFC record for not only most light heavyweight title defenses with eight, but all were done consecutively. His 13-fight win streak is the longest in UFC history.
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