We all know sex sells, but the other thing that sells is two big, pissed off athletes.
The UFC loves it some promotable controversy. Chael Sonnen made his career by providing the UFC with grudge match material against Anderson Silva. Other notable rivalries are: Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, Uriah Faber and Dominick Cruz, Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Ortiz and most everybody. See a pattern here?
Big names, big drama, big fights.
While Jones already had a bitter rivalry with Rashad Evans, that always felt like a scorned ex-lover storyline. Too much personal baggage, too little pure animosity. The origins are important in any good rivalry.
The origin between Jones and Cormier is difficult not to admire.
Cormier says it all began at UFC 121 way back on October 23, 2010. As he tells it, the two had never met. The two found themselves in the same space backstage when Jones commented that Cormier looked like a wrestler. Such a comment could have been interpreted many ways, but to Cormier came off as a spoiled talent too big for his britches. Cormier, an Olympic medalist, replied by telling Jones, “I’m probably the best wrestler you’ve seen.”
Naturally (when dealing with competitors), Jones threw back a barb, “Well, maybe you get the cauliflower ear on the other side and maybe you can get a takedown against me.”
And there we have it. The rivalry began as the best do: competitiveness.
Things escalated when Cormier began insinuating his desire to drop to 205. Jones responded by essentially saying Cormier was beneath him by accusing Cormier of ‘wanting to be famous’ then commented on his physique, his reach, and his cardio as well as the crown jewel: his Twitter following.
A slew of other public run ins through the media and not – a heated standoff at the World MMA Award earlier this year – has turned this into a scintillating story waiting to explode in the octagon.
The UFC hopes both men can avoid the loss column (and Cormier can make weight) because this fight could be lucrative.
As the FD surmised when the fight was first announced, it appears other parties believe the Alexander Gustafsson v. Antonio Noguiera light heavyweight match looked funny.
Except these other parties have far more weight to their words. The title holder himself, Jon Jones, said as much when he spoke with Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com:
“Seems like these guys are not really having the toughest time to get to the belt. (Glover) Teixeira goes from Bader to a championship fight. Gustafsson went from Shogun (Rua) to a championship fight.”
The truth of the matter is, Jones can’t exactly criticize. It was also he who fought Bader before an injury fill-in put him against Rua for a title shot. Not only did he take the same road as Teixera, he claimed the belt from the same guy who Gustafsson upended to book his match. It isn’t exactly like Jones went through hell-and-high-water to get a crack at the belt by comparison.
Even so, he makes a great point. However you look at it, the UFC conveniently placed Gustafsson in a less complicated follow-up to his title fight with Jones. Lil Nog has never proven a top fighter in the division and has injury history; a poor option to legitimize a title rematch for Gustafsson.
Jones goes on to say he believes that he, Cormier (though having never fought at that weight class), Gustafsson, and Teixera are the top four fighters in the division. He contends if any combination of those four fighters is not competing with one another, it determines nothing. He wants to see Gustafsson and Cormier next.
“No disrespect to Nogueira, but let’s see Gustafsson versus Cormier. It makes so much sense.”