DANIEL Cormier and Jon Jones are hoping the third time’s the charm as the long-awaited rematch, postponed twice in the past, has been booked for UFC 214 in Anaheim, California on July 29.
The UFC made the announcement on its Summer Kickoff news conference on Friday (Saturday, Manila time).
UFC President Dana White, not present in the news conference, went on to declare the light heavyweight title fight between champion Cormier and the returning Jones after getting banned for a failed drug test last year as the main event of the card. It’s a reversal from his previous plan to not put Jones as the headliner in his comeback fight.
White, though, also pointed out that light heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa is also planned to be part of the card in case another incident postpones the rematch for the third time. In January 2015, Jones had beaten Cormier to retain the belt, but got stripped of his title afterwards due to legal issues.
The rematch was first planned for April 2016, but an injury took out Cormier. When it was rescheduled to headline UFC 200 last July, Jones was the cause of the postponement after failing a drug test and getting pulled from the card just three days before the fight.
With the rematch set anew, Jones couldn’t be more excited to regain his belt.
“Whether I'm co-main or main, Daniel's getting his ass whooped and the belt is coming home with me,” he said.
Cormier, though, is apprehensive, specifically bringing Jones’ history of cocaine use as a possible reason for another postponement. Jones was found positive for cocaine before his 2015 win over Cormier.
“I'm sitting here and I see him, he's over there," said Cormier from inside American Airlines Center. "Is he really going to be in Anaheim? Is this guy really gonna go to the fight? Is this guy gonna mess this up again, doing steroids and snorting cocaine?"
At this point, the trash talk between rivals turned ugly.
"I beat you after a weekend of cocaine," responded Jones, who was unimpressed at cageside after Cormier’s last title defense against Anthony Johnson in UFC 210.
"Daniel Cormier has shown me absolutely nothing since our last fight. He has not progressed whatsoever. Anthony Johnson gave him that win," he added.
Cormier had the final say, though.
"At least I've been around to show something. Where the f--- has he been?" he said, pointing out that while he’s been defending the title, Jones was serving a one-year ban for doping.