The star-studded UFC 200 card in Las Vegas on Saturday, the biggest night of MMA fighting in history, was supposed to be headlined by a rematch between Conor McGregor, arguably the biggest star in the sport, against Nate Diaz. However, McGregor decided he didn’t want to help promote the fight so the bout was taken off the card and eventually moved to UFC 202. Now, the main event bout features former pound-for-pound champion Jon Jones taking on Daniel Cormier in a light-heavyweight unification bout. Jones is a -305 favorite on Mybookie.ag betting lines with Cormier at +245. The over/under is 4.5 rounds, with the over a -145 favorite.
UFC 200 Odds & Expert Pick for Cormier vs. Jones
Jones (22-1), a 28-year-old American, returned from a 15-month layoff at UFC 197 in April. He defeated Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision in an interim 205-pound title fight. Jones looked tentative in his comeback but was nevertheless dominant. All three judges scored it a sweep for Jones: 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45. Even Jones, who picked up his 13th consecutive win in the contest, said he was disappointed with how it went.
“I was watching, imagining, anticipating techniques — knowing when techniques would have landed, but just not going for it,” Jones said. “Physically, I felt amazing. Mentally, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m sucking. This isn’t good.'”
Originally, Jones was supposed to fight for the official title in a rematch against Cormier, but Cormier suffered a leg injury and was forced to pull out of the event on April 1. Saint Preux agreed to fill in on three weeks’ notice. It was Jones’ first appearance since January 2015, when he defeated Cormier by decision to record his eighth consecutive title defense. Three months later, Jones was arrested in Albuquerque on a felony hit-and-run charge and stripped of his UFC title.
Cormier (17-1) is a 37-year-old American. He last fought against Alexander Gustafsson in October at UFC 192 and won by split decision in his first title defense. Judges Kerry Hatley and Sal D’Amato scored the fight for Cormier, 49-46 and 48-47, respectively. Judge Derek Clearly saw it for Gustafsson, 48-47. It was easily the toughest win of Cormier’s professional career. He was knocked down by a Gustafsson knee and left hook in the third round and suffered a deep cut under his right eye. The pace alone was incredibly taxing. Cormier threw 364 total strikes and landed 219. Gustafsson landed 130 of an attempted 26.
In college, Cormier was one of the best wrestlers in the country, but he competed in the same weight class as the legendary Cael Sanderson — who went 159-0 at Iowa State with four championships — so he never won an NCAA title. In the Olympics, Cormier finished fourth in 2004.
Cormier says his legacy is on the line in this rematch with Jones. Cormier has solidified his spot as the best 205-pounder in Jones’ absence, but that absence has always loomed over his championship claims.
“I haven’t experienced that shining moment,” Cormier said. “When [UFC president] Dana White straps that title belt around your waist, that’s huge. But to be truly recognized as the best in the world at something? I can’t say that I’ve felt that because Jon beat me in our first fight. This is life or death for me and I’m OK with that.”
This will be the first time since 2013 that Jones fights more than once in a year, but he’s younger, has a much bigger reach — with an 84-inch reach, Jones can chew opponents up from the outside — and already took care of business once against Cormier. Lean Jones on betting lines and this will go to decision.