The weigh ins are done; Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier have made weight. For once, the MMA Gods looked down upon us mere mortals, and unlike the wrath in the Old Testament – or more recently, UFC 213, they did not take it upon themselves to once again starve the fight fans of the main fights.
However, the allure of UFC 214 is much different from any other PPV. Since time immemorial, the fight fans have witnessed many highly anticipated fights falling through. Be it due to unhealthy weight cuts, injuries during the training camp or any other promotional reason, there is an aura of uncertainty around the marquee bouts.
But make no mistake, there is no fight bigger in the UFC than Jon Jones – Daniel Cormier.
While one fighter is chasing his own destiny, vying to etch his name in the annals of sporting history as the greatest ever competitor, his opponent – and the champion – enters the Octagon with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Every world class athlete, every champion has that one formidable opponent, that not only defines his legacy, but becomes an obsession. Daniel Cormier was undefeated, beating the heavyweights and light heavyweights alike, before running into the one man that is often looked at as MMA’s greatest anomaly.
The UFC 214 main event is not only a career defining fight for Daniel Cormier, but a fight that will decide on which side of the “G.O.A.T” discussion Jon Jones ends up on.
Wasted talent or the undeniable P4P king
Every sport, in recorded history, has witnessed one athlete that has defied logic, yet has chosen to take a treacherous path in his or her personal life. They say the most gifted are the most troubled; in the UFC, there is perhaps no one that would embody that phrase more than Jon Jones.
At a young age, Jon was thrusted into the spotlight. Jones never shied away from a challenge; whether it was submitting one of the greatest fighters in Lyoto Machida, or carving his opponents’ heads with his nasty elbows, “Bones” was the most dominant athlete in the UFC for years.
The word “legacy” is thrown around quite often these days. To define someone’s legacy, we need to measure their impact on the sport. The intangible is often relayed in a more measurable output; Jon Jones’ legacy will not get tainted with a loss to Daniel Cormier.
However, there is the aspect of truly unleashing Jon’s potential. When you truly look into the intricacies of Jon as an athlete, there is one fact that would send shivers down the spine of every MMA pundit.
Jon Jones hasn’t hit his peak yet.
Jones has already achieved mythical status in the sport. A far cry from the likes of Anderson Silva and Fedor, Jon hasn’t been someone that truly believed in the “martial art code” (Wu De, for example).
It is no secret that “Bones” indulges in various practices, and likes to live it up. However, until now, Jon hasn’t been able to separate his personal life from his professional life.
It is often said that bad things happen for a reason. In the past year alone, Jon has talked about putting things in perspective, and accepting responsibilities. The question, though, is which Jon Jones would enter the cage come Saturday night.
Would it be the Jon Jones that got into trouble so many times with the law? Or will it be the Jon Jones that is set on a journey to redefine his legacy, and truly find himself?
What does a victory mean for Jon Jones?
Recently, Duane Finley from FloCombat wrote an excellent piece about Jon Jones, when he was confronted by fans after the UFC 200 fiasco. Narratives change, as do perspectives.
Jon Jones hasn’t been defeated in the UFC thus far (forgetting about that Hamill fight for a minute). There was one instance when Gustafsson came perilously close to shattering his aura of invincibility, but Jon admitted that his judgment was clouded before the fight, as he was busy trying to take in the essence of youth, while not focusing on his quest to become the undisputed P4P number one fighter.
However, with a victory over Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones’ journey would come full circle. After being stripped off the title, Jon Jones had to dust off the darkest corners, with his head in his hands, as he watched Daniel Cormier – his greatest adversary, not only win the title, but berate Jon at every opportunity he got.
This will be an emotional return for Jon Jones inside the Octagon as well. Jon will be stepping into the cage for the first time, knowing that he wouldn’t be hearing his mother’s voice, allaying his fears, his trepidations, his regrets.
The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion will not only be fighting for himself, but to prove to his fallen mother that he is, indeed, reborn.