UFC 197 features Jon Jones’ return to the Octagon and his rematch with the reigning light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Let’s review the UFC odds and discuss this epic title tilt.
Indulge me a moment and replace your internal voice with the lyrical stylings of Eminem as he raps, “Guess who’s back – back again. Jonny’s back – tell a friend.” To wit, Jones arches a sinister eyebrow and responds with, “Now this looks like a job for me so everybody just follow me, 'cause we need a little controversy, 'cause it feels so empty without me!” Indeed, the UFC light heavyweight division has definitely felt empty without Jon Bones Jones wreaking mayhem and destruction upon all who oppose him at 205.
Yet, his forced sabbatical is all on him as Jonny has been a bad, no so little boy. Jones was arrested on April 27, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico for leaving the scene of an accident, which left one of the drivers suffering a fractured wrist and arm. To make matters worse, the injured driver in question was pregnant and rushed to the hospital from the scene.
This was just the latest in bad behavior from the former champ who also tested positive for cocaine in his system two months before the car accident occurred and one month prior to his victory over his nemesis Daniel Cormier. Dana White stripped Jones of the title and suspended him indefinitely. Within a year of the suspension, White put a number on indefinitely and now Jon “Bones” Jones, the destroyer of men and the most feared fighter on the planet, is back and it couldn’t come soon enough.
Daniel Cormier is now the reigning light heavyweight champion but he didn’t get there by chance. Okay, sort of by chance seeing as he was pretty much manhandled by Jones in their championship title match back on January 3, 2015 at UFC 182. The UFC odds makers installed Jones as a -179 to -240 favorite depending upon where you shopped but no matter the number you laid, JBJ was worthy of inclusion in your UFC picks as he scored a unanimous decision over the former Olympic wrestler.
After Jones was stripped of his title Cormier rebounded with a victory, by rear naked choke, over the ferocious Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the vacant light heavyweight crown. Cormier got no safe haven from the UFC in terms of intimidating opponents but he weathered the storm against Alexander Gustafsson in a controversial split decision.
On April 23rd at UFC 197 in Sin City the two combatants will get to exchange unpleasantries once again and go five rounds for a title both claim to be theirs. Ironically, the oddsmakers are not impressed with Cormier’s victories and the early line being hung by the major offshore sportsbooks has Jones as an even chalkier favorite than he was in their first match. Currently the line is floating between Jones -310 to as high as -350.
That might be a bit surprising to those who believe ring rust could play a real factor in whether or not JBJ is ready to take on an elite competitor like Cormier in his first match back. Yet, there is another school of thought that suggests Bones may be even hungrier to win back his belt and, outside of an additional four or five months, would have been defending his light heavyweight strap at approximately the same time.
As this title tilt draws closer we will examine the strengths and weaknesses of both fighters and make a definite choice as to who will come out on top in a subsequent column. But until then I will be checking the dates off my calendar until April 23rd.