On May 23rd, UFC champions Jon Jones and Chris Weidman will defend their titles against the #1 and #3 ranked challengers in their respective weight classes.
Vitor Belfort, an MMA legend, goes against Weidman in a fight rescheduled three-times prior due to injuries on the part of Weidman, and licensing issues due to Belfort's use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy. Despite this, he's still at the peak of his game, while the champion's 12-0 record and triumphs over two of Belfort's compatriots, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, speak for themselves. Belfort is poised to cut his streak short. "The Phenom" has won three fights dating back to UFC 152 loss against Jon Jones, and hopes that momentum will lift him to a title victory in his third attempt.
Jones goes against Anthony Johnson in the main event. Johnson, 30, was out of the UFC three fights ago. In 2011, "Rumble" suffered a defeat to Vitor Belfort, which halted a two-fight trajectory. The reason why he wasn't offered a chance to rebuild was quite clear. Johnson had missed weight three-times in the UFC, and couldn't hold down the 170-lb Welterweight or 185-lb Middleweight limit. He was 11-lbs overweight against Belfort, and, off of a first-round submission loss, was sent on his way.
Six wins later, he returned, and plowed through the 205-lb as if hadn't missed a beat. Johnson's latest win is a first-round knockout win over Alexander Gustafsson. Johnson's win over the Swede, whom many may recognize as Jon Jones' greatest scourge, punched his ticket for a title shot.
These fights both demand the spotlight, but Jon Jones especially seeks some redemption after a period of harsh media-scrutiny. Jones failed a drug test around the time of his UFC 182 win over Daniel Cormier; testing positive for the main metabolite in cocaine. A downpour of criticisms and derision was about all he was met with, since the failed test occurred outside of competition, but it did raise doubts about his devotion to MMA fighting. We'll see if he expends his frustrations upon someone well-past a need for redemption. Jones will need to be fully motivated to come away with his championship.
At UFC 187, both Jones and Chris Weidman must be ready for some of the toughest adversity they may face in their careers. Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson are ready to wrap their hands around a UFC title for the first time. Neither will be turned away with anything less than a perfect performance.
If that isn't enough to get your attention, #2 ranked Lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov and #3 ranked Donald Cerrone are set to battle in an attractive title eliminator. Top-ten Heavyweights Travis Browne and Andrei Arlovski will go toe-to-toe in a pivotal crossroads fight, while a Welterweight bout between aggressive combatants Josh Burkman and Dong Hyun Kim rounds out the main card.
A pair of excellent Flyweight bouts featuring fighters gravitating around a talent-stacked divisional top fifteen will take center stage on the Fox Sports 1 preliminary show. Top-rated striking specialist Joseph Benavidez faces John Moraga in the main appetizer, while John Dodson goes against Pittsburgh's Zach Makovsky beforehand.
Also on the bill:
- Knockout artist Uriah Hall Vs. Brazil's Rafael Natal
- Rose Namajunas faces Nina Anasaroff in the newly-constructed UFC Women's Strawweight class
- Mike Pyle takes on Sean Spencer in a fight between rough-worn Welterweights
- Flyweight hopeful Justin Scoggins takes on Josh Sampo
- Multiple-time Sambo champion Islam Makhachev makes his UFC debut against Leo Kuntz
Perhaps this show came to fruition for nothing but convenience. Weidman-Belfort suffered repeated cancellations, while Jon Jones dipped his stock though the so-called cocaine scandal, so, perhaps, we're seeing these two elite pound-for-pound fighters on one show for the purpose of marketability. That still doesn't explain the remainder of an brilliant preliminary line-up.
Hush, you don't even have to. UFC 187 is the best-looking event the promotion has offered in the current decade, and you would have to go back far to find more refined talent on one fight-card. It is a must-watch event under any circumstances.
UFC 187 takes place on May 23rd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be shown live on Pay Per View in the United States.