The UFC 210 main event is the definition of a high stakes championship fight.
Looming over the division and the matchup is Jon Jones, who is just a few months away from returning to the Octagon. The former 205-pound king likely will face the winner of Cormier vs. Johnson, and for the current champion it’s a fight he desperately needs.
Cormier’s only blemish on an otherwise perfect run at heavyweight and light heavyweight is a loss to Jones back at UFC 182. At 38 years old, a loss to Johnson at this point of Cormier’s career would be devastating. A win by DC virtually guarantees the rematch with Jones and a chance to secure his legacy.
“Rumble” is getting his second crack at the championship after losing to Cormier in 2015. If Johnson were to fall short once again there’s no guarantee he’ll get another chance.
UFC 210 takes place at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. on April 8 at 10 p.m. / 7 p.m. ET/PT and Cormier vs. Johnson for the light heavyweight title is the No. 1 reason to watch.
2 – Can Rumble hang with the king of the grind?
In the months leading up to the rematch between Cormier and Johnson, the champion has been adamant about his plans to stand with Johnson. He said he’ll take his chances against one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA history.
Conventional wisdom says that DC is just trying to get in Johnson’s head and when the fight starts he’ll look to get inside and eventually get Rumble to the mat.
In the first fight, Cormier landed three takedowns on Johnson en route to the submission victory in the third round. The champion is 7-0 when he lands more than two takedowns in a fight.
While Johnson and Cormier are upright, DC is always in danger because of Johnson’s arsenal of fight-altering strikes. Rumble has 11 career KOs which is a mark good for second on the all-time UFC list. He also is fourth all-time with 13 career knockdowns and his five sub-one minute KO finishes are the most in UFC history.
3 – The ultimate chess match in the co-main event
Chris Weidman has always been known for his well-rounded game. Wrestling is his base, but the former champ made his name by knocking out Anderson Silva, altering the foundation of the entire sport of MMA.
Now Weidman faces Gegard Mousasi, an experienced fighter who may be even more well-rounded then “The All American.”
How about these stats: Mousasi has the fifth-best striking differential (+2.07) in middleweight history, third-highest strike defense rate among active 185ers (64.3 percent) and the second-highest takedown defense rate among active middleweights (82.8 percent).
What does it all mean? Mousasi hits opponents more than he gets hit, is the third-hardest middleweight in the world to land on, and when the striking isn’t going to plan opponents land takedowns on the former Strikeforce champion at only a 17.2 percent clip.
That’s the puzzle Weidman must solve at UFC 210.
The good news for Weidman is that he has the third-highest takedown accuracy rate among active middleweights (49 percent) and his six finishes since 2011 are the most in the middleweight division.
4 – Former champ looks to make impact
Will Brooks entered the UFC after running the lightweight division in a previous promotion. Since his move to the Octagon, Brooks has gone 1-1 and hasn’t yet found his comfort zone.
But Brooks has widely been considered a Top 10 lightweight for the past few years and he can reaffirm that standing with an impressive showing against Charles Oliveira to open the main card.
Oliveira is moving back up to 155 pounds after dropping his last two at 145 pounds. The Brazilian has eight career performance bonuses and can reestablish himself as a player at lightweight with a win over Brooks.
Get ready for UFC 210: Check out the full fight card | DC-Rumble, Weidman-Mousasi ready to fight | Listen: Cynthia Calvillo joins UFC Unfiltered, Katlyn Chookagian | Watch: UFC 210 Countdown | Snoop Dogg breaks down DC | How to order the PPV
5 – Strawweight prospects collide in PPV showcase
It’s been a whirlwind few months for Team Alpha Male’s Cynthia Calvillo. The California-based fighter made her debut at UFC 209, submitting Amanda Cooper on the main Pay Per View card after getting the late call up from the FIGHT PASS prelims.
Now just a month later, Calvillo returns and is set to compete on the big stage once again.
On the other side of the Octagon will be UFC debutant Pearl Gonzalez, a heralded young fighter out of Chicago, who has been making waves outside of the UFC with five finishes among her six career wins.
6 – The Ultimate Fighter Season 21 champ ready to make a statement
Kamaru Usman seems like a legitimate future title hopeful. The decorated wrestler trains with the now defunct Blackzilians team down in Florida and is progressing as a striker every time he competes.
Usman takes on fellow prospect Sean Strickland, who is a perfect test for Usman at this stage. Strickland is 5-1 and is riding a three-fight win streak.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC