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Are Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier destined for a third and final meeting in the Octagon? 

Rivalries in sport are nothing new, especially in the Ultimate fighting Championship (UFC). Over the years we’ve had the likes of Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, BJ Penn and Matt Hughes and more recently, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. But few rivalries possess the genuine animosity that exists between former light heavyweight champion Jon ’Bones’ Jones and current two-division champion Daniel Cormier.

The two gifted pugilists’ hatred for each other is unlike the majority of the aforementioned ’big fight’ manufactured antipathy. Despite Cormier losing twice to his nemesis, he still has the strap that Jones effectively never lost. Jones was and in many people’s eyes, still is, considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Let’s not forget, he is technically unbeaten by any man in his career, the only loss on his record coming by way of disqualification for an illegal strike in a fight against Mat Hamill. Should the two once again face off, Jones is likely to be the favourite and you’ll be able to bet on the fight here: https://www.paddypower.com/mixed-martial-arts.

That first dance in the Octagon between the two was back in January, 2015 at UFC 182.

After a long build up and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on social media before the fight, the two finally came to blows. The fight went the distance, with Jones winning via unanimous decision. Two days after the fight it came to light that Jones had tested positive for cocaine metabolites in a random pre-fight drug test, which was conducted a month before the bout.

The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) learned of the test failure and informed the UFC, who decided to keep it to themselves until two days after the fight, when Jones was officially informed and the news was leaked to the media. The reason for the UFC keeping it quiet was the admittance from the NAC that Jones was not penalized by them for the test failure because cocaine metabolites are not banned by WADA code for out-of-competition use, as they are not considered to be performance enhancing.

The rematch with Daniel Cormier finally did take place in July 2017, at UFC 214. Jones won the fight and re-captured the UFC Light Heavyweight strap with a vicious head kick in the third round that dropped DC, followed up with a barrage of strikes on the ground. In a humble post-fight interview, Jones praised Cormier as a ’model champion’, whilst also recognising his own personal failings. Was the much-maligned champion turning over a new leaf?

All seemed well again in the light heavyweight division. But on August 22nd 2017, it was announced that yet again, Jones had been flagged for a doping violation by USADA, testing positive for Turinabol, an anabolic steroid. This stemmed from a test sample collected after the weigh-ins prior to UFC 214. Jones was placed on a provisional suspension and a month later USADA confirmed that both the ’AA’ and ’B’ sample Jones provided had tested positive for Turinabol. As a result, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) overturned the result of the fight to a no contest. UFC President Dana White was positively seething and made the decision to yet again strip him of the Light Heavyweight championship for a record third time and turn it over to Daniel Cormier.

So, will the two fighters complete the trilogy and settle their differences once and for all?

Both have said they would welcome the chance to fight again. In an interview earlier this year with MMAJunkie, Cormier said:
“I thought (the door on a third Jones fight) was closed, but you asked me what I want, is that a possibility? I’m not sure. But as a competitor, it’s what I want. You don’t always get what you want, but I feel like if we had the opportunity again it would be a good fight. But that’s what I want. If not, I’ll fight whoever. That’s what I’ve always done. I defended the belt against Volkan Oezdemir. He was the next guy, so I fought him.”

Dana White has said he would never let Jones headline another UFC card so the fight would have to be a co-main event at best. There is currently no timetable for Jones’ return to fighting and another possible stumbling block in the way of the rubber is the possible return of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. The WWE turned MMA star stormed the Octagon after Cormier had just defeated Stipe Miocic, which led to Lesnar and Cormier facing off in the Octagon in front of Joe Rogan, who was conducting a post-fight interview with Cormier, in a scene more reminiscent of Lesnar’s WWE days. At 39 years old, Cormier has stated he would retire at 40, but that he will defend his 205 title at least once, so this leaves room for only one or two more fights. Could he defend both his titles before retiring? And which belt would he defend first?

Realistically, the chances of seeing Jones vs. Cormier fight again are unlikely for the foreseeable future, but stranger things have happened. The chance of redemption against his greatest foe could be the final step in DC’s quest to cement his legacy and go down in history as the greatest fighter of all time.