The UFC’s first main event of the year could be the 2015 Fight of The Year right off the bat as  UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones defends his belt for the 8th time against former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and Olympic wrestler Daniel “DC” Cormier at the main event of UFC 182 on January 3, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Bad Blood

The event is dubbed as “Bad Blood” and rightfully so, after the physical and verbal encounters which the two protagonists engaged in during the months leading to the fight. Jones and Cormier look like two men who don’t just want to win the belt but who want to beat the hell out of the other inside the octagon. Hatred would be an understatement to describe the relationship between these two combatants and after months of waiting, the fight is finally in our midst.

This is Part Two

Technically speaking, The Jones-Cormier fight on January 3 will be the second fight between both men in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada because last August, the two men came to blows after the traditional staredown photo ops for UFC 178’s media day. The now infamous brawl immediately drummed up public interest for the Jones-Cormier bout which was slated for September 2014. The UFC took advantage(as expected) and milked it into an overblown grudge match. However, Jones suffered an injury during training and the bout that was scheduled for UFC 178 was moved to January 3 as the main event of UFC 182. Some people say that the delay may have killed the excitement of the fight, but then maybe not. This one may not be all hype at all.

Genuine Hate

The animosity between Jones and Cormier isn’t just about the fight itself nor the belt. It dates back to 2010 when Cormier was still new in the UFC. It was during the weigh-in for UFC 121 when DC was accompanying teammate Cain Velasquez who was scheduled to fight Brock Lesnar . When Jones introduced himself to DC, he offended Cormier with his actions and  the match made in hell was born. A year later, they had another altercation at the 2011 World MMA Awards. Since then, they’ve fought with words until Cormier made the drop to light heavyweight and declared he wanted Jones’ head. Because of this history, the length of the wait will not diminish the hate.

The Better Striker

Jones slightly lands more strikes per round than Cormier at 21.7 against 20.3, with their accuracy rates almost the same. The difference between the two men in terms of striking is their intended targets. Jones has a more diverse striking game, targeting the head 68%, body 16% and legs 16%. On the other hand, Cormier is a one dimensional striker, targeting the head 81% of the time while budgeting just 13% to body shots and 6% to leg strikes.

Defense Covers Age

Cormier makes up for his striking weakness with defense according to mmafighting. DC absorbs three fewer strikes per round than Jones because he is light on his feet and has good footwork. That is why despite being eight years older than Jones, he does not have as much wear and tear as Jones whose fought more rounds than him. Jones though has been a riddle because of his length. Against Cormier, Bones has a one foot reach advantage which should keep Cormier at bay. But fighting at a size disadvantage is nothing new to Cormier who fought against bigger and taller guys in the heavyweight division before moving down light heavyweight in 2013.

An Elite Wrestler

The advertised edge for Daniel Cormier is his wrestling. The former Olympian promised to take Jones to the ground and punish him there. But if you take a look at their stats, both average almost the same number of takedowns landed/attempts per round with the champ at 0.8/1.6 and the challenger at 0.7/1.5. The difference between the two is that Cormier uses ground and pound as offense on the mat while Jones is more of a submission artist on the ground. Cormier has never been taken down to the ground in his UFC career while Jones has been put down only once in 28 tries. What gives here will be answered on Saturday night.

Final Say

The betting odds have Jones a slight favorite at -175 while Cormier a +155 underdog. If we translate that to percentages, Jones has a 64% chance of winning based on the Vegas bets. This may sound cliche but this one is really anybody’s ballgame. We have two virtually undefeated fighters right here (Jones’ loss is by disqualification) fighting for the world title. With no love lost between them, this one has war written all over it. Believe the hype and don’t think that  this will be the last time they’ll ever fight, in and out of the octagon.