Let’s deliver the particulars for which you waited several months to receive: Jon Jones will return to the octagon to face light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 197 on April 23 at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Demetrious Johnson also will defend his flyweight title at UFC 197 against Henry Cejudo.
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Much has changed in the 13-plus months since Jones and Cormier last fought.
Jones no longer is the champion. Cormier will wear that crown for this fight, although he never beat Jones to ascend to the top. Jones did that all by himself.
Jones (21-1) was stripped of his last and suspended indefinitely last April the day after he was arrested in connection with a hit-and-run crash in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Sunday morning. He faced a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injuries. In September, Jones pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident but received supervised probation and community service and avoided jail time.
The UFC in October reinstated Jones, who grew up in Endicott, New York.
Before the suspension, Jones was considered the best fighter in the sport regardless of weight class. Jones proved that once again on Jan. 3, 2015, when he dominated Cormier to win a unanimous decision at UFC 182. It was his eighth consecutive title defense, the longest streak in the 205-pound division in the UFC history.
Cormier (17-1) has something to prove in fighting Jones. Since beating Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to win the vacant title last May at UFC 187, the narrative surrounding Cormier has been that he didn’t beat Jones to become the champion. (Such a story arc would have followed Johnson as well had he won.)
In Cormier’s first title defense last October at UFC 192, he won a split decision over Alexander Gustafsson.
Cormier and Jones do not like each other. The two got into a scrap at a press event before the first fight, continued the tough talk on an ESPN hit (with their salacious unaired verbal battle being leaked online as well) and then getting into it any chance they could.
That wasn’t the usual pre-fight rhetoric to gain Twitter followers and sell tickets and pay-per-view buys, evident by their continued public discourse against each other after the fight.