By Jason Furness
Let’s start this by saying that the UFC 182 main event of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier is a huge fight. Stylistically, emotionally and promotionally it is all but perfect. The challenger is undefeated and the champion is equally as good, with his only loss coming via DQ when he was putting one hell of a beating on Matt Hamill. The storyline there writes itself.
Both men are phenomenal MMA wrestlers, with Cormier having a huge advantage in competitive mat experience but Jones showing us just how well adapted his game is to mixed martial arts. Though Cormier’s striking is basic, both men are a threat on their feet. Jones’ unorthodox array of punches, elbows and kicks are evident, but the AKA man’s power is not to be sniffed at. Admittedly, it won’t be a range where Jones will feel he’ll have too many issues but he also cannot write off his opposite number.
On the mat, if either man is on top of you then you can expect to be in for a long night. That is if you’re not lucky enough to have the referee pulling them off you quickly due to their ferocious ground and pound output.
The buildup has had unparalleled coverage following the infamous press conference scuffle, and champion and challenger are both massively invested in the emotional stakes off the back of that. As far as UFC main events go, this is genuinely huge.
However, since Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano was reshuffled to March, it looks like there isn’t too much backup on the typically bigger Vegas payperviews. Donald Cerrone vs. Myles Jury is a fight that will have any hardcore MMA fan salivating, but past that it begins to go downhill quickly.
After losing three in a row, Nate Marquardt got back to winning ways against James Te Huna, and Brad Tavares has back-to-back defeats. Hector Lombard vs. Josh Burkman holds some title aspirations, but not too many are predicting victory for the veteran Burkman. In poker terms, for example, if Burkman were to visit one of top-rated online casinos, you’d struggle to find many giving him a reasonable chance of victory. The further down you go, the more obscure the names to the casual fan, and the less strength in depth the card professes.
If you put the undercard on any nondescript international Fight Night event, the fans would complain that they’re being shortchanged. Putting it on a Vegas PPV makes it look conspicuously worse. Yes, there are injuries. Yes, guys on the roster need fights. But it seems that the UFC are banking too much on an all-or-nothing payoff from the main event, rather than backing it up with the relevant star power to solidify ratings.
If Jones or Cormier were to fall injured from this point, and stranger things have happened, all of a sudden you’d have one of the weakest numbered cards in recent memory, and all because the backup isn’t there. That problem will likely and hopefully not arise, but it’s a fragile piece of ice that is being walked on.
With such a huge pairing and a fan fervour for the lightheavyweight title fight, it’s likely to be brushed under the carpet if all goes as planned, but it’d only take one slip for things to be a catastrophe and the fear of another event cancellation to become a reality.