The biggest UFC event of 2017 occurs on Saturday, July 29, when UFC 214 takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The UFC 214 fight card features three title fights headlined by a rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight championship.
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley defends the welterweight title against Demian Maia. For the vacant women’s featherweight championship, Cris “Cyborg” Justino battles Tonya Evinger.
Cormier (19-1) and Jones (22-1) first met at UFC 182 in January 2015 with Jones winning by unanimous decision. That gave Cormier, the current light heavyweight champion, the first loss of his MMA career. Then, Jones’ career went into a downward spiral. Three weeks before his scheduled title defense against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in May 2015, Jones got into a hit-and-run auto accident in Albuquerque involving a pregnant woman, who broke her wrist.
The UFC stripped Jones of the belt, suspended him indefinitely and replaced him with Cormier, who went on to submit Johnson.
Cormier went on to defend his belt at UFC 192 in October 2015, defeating Alexander Gustafsson in a back-and-forth bout that was one of the greatest fights in UFC history. Cormier and Jones were scheduled to meet at UFC 197 in April 2016, but Cormier suffered an injury. Jones went on to face Ovince Saint Preux for the interim title with Jones winning by unanimous decision.
Right after Jones’ victory, once again, the UFC booked the rematch for the main event of the historic UFC 200 last July. But Jones fouled up once again, being pulled 72 hours before the event after the UFC learned he failed a drug test. He ended up being suspended for one year with the punishment finishing up earlier this month.
Here is our live main card coverage of UFC 214.
11:41: Up next, in the co-main event for the welterweight championship, Tyron Woodley defends against former middleweight title challenger Demian Maia. Since winning the welterweight belt from Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 last July, Woodley’s (17-3-1) had a tough start to his title reign. He defended the title twice against Stephen Thompson, going to a majority draw at UFC 205 and winning by majority decision at UFC 209.
Woodley had hoped to fight Nick Diaz in his next defense, but instead will face the former middleweight title challenger. Looking to capture his first UFC title, Maia (25-6) has won seven consecutive fights including three via stoppage.
With the bout just being announced at the end of June, Woodley and Maia will have only had about four weeks to prepare. But this should still be one of the best welterweight title bouts in recent memory in a battle of Woodley’s power against the grappling prowess of Maia.
Cris Cyborg blasts Tomya Evinger to capture UFC Women’s Featherweight Title
11:31: Cyborg defeats Evinger by TKO at 1:56 of the third round to become the UFC women’s featherweight championship. An amazing performance by Cyborg. Very technical striking, composed and made Evinger look like she didn’t belong in there with her. It was a long, winding road for Cyborg to get to the UFC. And in her first title opportunity, she capitalized on it. She’s the baddest woman on the planet and it’s her division now.
11:26: Round 2 to Cyborg (10-9, 20-18). If you Evinger making it into the third round, you hit the lottery. Cyborg is blasting her with everything she’s got and not nly surviving, but moving forward and competing. How much longer can Evinger survive?
11:21: Round 1 to Cyborg (10-9). If you had Evinger lasting through the first round, you won the betting pool. Cyborg showed why she is the hardest striker in women’s MMA. While known for her striking prowess, Cyborg showed variety, going with the inside leg kicks, knees and high kicks. GIve Evinger credit for hanging in there by taking everything Cyborg threw at her, connecting on leg kicks, punches and scoring a takedown. Evinger has to land something to make Cyborg respect her.
11:07: Coming up next, in the first of three title fights, this for the vacant women’s featherweight championship, Cris Cyborg goes up against Tonya Evinger. Germaine de Randamie became the first women’s 145-pound champion when she defeated Holly Holm by controversial decision at UFC 208. After the UFC declared Justino would get the next title shot, de Randamie wouldn’t commit to facing Cyborg and decided she wouldn’t do it because she believed Justino is a cheater due to a drug test failure in 2011, and being granted a retroactive therapeutic use exemption from USADA for another test failure in December.
So the UFC stripped de Randamie of the title and made a fight between Justino and former Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson. A week after the fight was announced, Anderson had to bow out due to personal issues and Evinger got the call.
Evinger (19-5), who was the women’s bantamweight champion in Invicta, will be moving up 10 pounds. She’s one of the pioneers of women’s MMA and fans have been baffled as to why she’s never gotten the call from the UFC. Evinger is unbeaten in her last 11 fights and ready for battle in the biggest and toughest test of her 11-year career.
Robbie Lawler edges out Donald Cerrone in a war
11:02: What an unbelievable fight as Lawler wins a narrow decision. The fight came down to the third round with Lawler taking the first and Cerrone the second. Cerrone had won the first half of the round mixng up his punches and strikes. Lawler bounced back and the fight hung in the balance in the final minute. That’s when Lawler poured it on throwing everything but the kitchen sink which won him the fight. A win puts Lawler back in the drivers seat to face the winner of the co-main event between Woodley and Maia. Cerrone has now lost back-to-back fights and a move back down to lightweight should be in the cards where he would be a top contender once again.
10:52: Cerrone came back with a stronger second round. Started to find a home with the leg and high kicks. Lawler took a bit of a back seat as he expended a lot of energy in the first round. Expect the fireworks to continue in the third and final round.
10:45: Lawler came out of the gates in the first round with a vengeance. He attacked Cerrone with a barrage of punches and knees but somehow Cerrone was able to hang on and survived. Cerrone had his moments especially in the clinch, landing a series of knees and elbows. About two minutes left in the round, he surprisingly took Lawler down but the former champion got up. Exactly what everyone expected. High pace and high energy.
10:35: Up next at UFC 214, in welterweight action, former champion Robbie Lawler goes up against Donald Cerrone. This is a fans dream fight. Lawler hasn’t fought since he lost the title to Tyron Woodley last July at UFC 201. Cerrone is also coming off a loss in his last bout to Jorge Masvidal back in January at UFC on Fox. Fans have wanted to see this for so long. Expect 15 minutes of high level striking with neither Cerrone and Lawler taking a back seat.
Oezdemir blasts Manuwa in 42 seconds
10:31: We said don’t blink and we meant it. Manuwa had Oezdemir against the cage and that played to the Swiss natives advantage. He connected on a short right to the body and then a left hook which had Manuwa reeling. Oezdemir sensing Manuwa was in trouble, missed with a right, blasted Manuwa with a left hand and another short left to send Manuwa’s head back against the mat. One punch to the mat later and the fight was stopped. After the fight ended, Oezdemir told Joe Rogan he wants the winner of tonight’s main event between Cormier and Jones. It’s hard to disagree. He’s knocked two of the top five light heavyweights in the world in a total of 70 seconds. No one’s made more of an argument than Oezdemir as Manuwa was penciled in to step in the main event if something happened to either Cormier or Jones. Hopefully the UFC takes notice and let’s the fighters performance speak for itself instead of name recognition.
10:13: Kicking off the UFC 214 main card, in light heavyweight action, Volkan Oezdemir goes up against Jimi Manuwa. No. 5 ranked Oezdemir’s taken the UFC by storm in 2017 defeating former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux and top-ranked Misha Cirkunov in 28 seconds back in May. No. 3 ranked Manuwa has won back-to-back fights notching back-to-back knockouts over Saint Preux and Corey Anderson. Don’t blink as it likely won’t last long.
10:00 p.m.: UFC 214 PPV main card is about begin from the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. The main event features the anticipated rematch for the light heavyweight title as Daniel Cormier goes up against former champion Jon Jones. Grab your refreshments now and enjoy Sporting News’ live coverage of the UFC’s biggest card of 2017, UFC 214.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can listen to his podcast, “The Fight Junkies” here. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.