Jon Jones. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
They met in an all-time classic a little more than five years ago, and the public has patiently awaited the rematch ever since. Jon Jones will lock horns with Alexander Gustafsson for the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title in the UFC 232 main event on Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Meanwhile, the co-main event will see Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino defend her women’s featherweight crown against bantamweight titleholder Amanda Nunes in a rare champion-versus-champion superfight.
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Jones has not competed since July 29, 2017, his extended absence the result of 15-month suspension imposed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after he tested positive for anabolic steroids. The troubled but supremely talented 31-year-old has compiled a 13-0 record with one no-contest across his last 14 appearances and already ranks as one of the greatest fighters of all-time. Wins over Daniel Cormier, Glover Teixeira, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, Mauricio Rua and Ryan Bader anchor his remarkable resume. Jones defeated Gustafsson by unanimous decision at UFC 165 in what was regarded by most as the 2013 “Fight of the Year.”
Gustafsson finds himself on a two-fight winning streak, having beaten Teixeira and former KSW champion Jan Blachowicz in back-to-back outings. The 6-foot-5 Swede has delivered 14 of his 18 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission, nine of them inside one round. Gustafsson operates out of the Allstars Training Center camp in Stockholm and Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, California.
UFC 232 “Jones vs. Gustafsson 2” — which airs live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT — also features a welterweight clash pairing former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit with Michael Chiesa, a light heavyweight tilt pitting “The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner Corey Anderson against Ilir Latifi and a featherweight battle slotting Team Alpha Male mainstay Chad Mendes opposite Alexander Volkanovski.
Fox Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT) are scheduled to share coverage of the eight-fight undercard. Among the matchups of interest: Megan Anderson vs. Cat Zingano, Petr Yan vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade and Curtis Millender vs. Siyar Bahadurzada.
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Meanwhile, the Professional Fighters League will close out its inaugural 2018 campaign on New Year’s Eve inside the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The event airs live on the NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and features championship fights in six weight classes: Ray Cooper III vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov at welterweight, Josh Copeland vs. Philipe Lins at heavyweight, Vinny Magalhaes vs. Sean O’Connell at light heavyweight, Natan Schulte vs. Rashid Magomedov at lightweight, Lance Palmer vs. Steven Siler at featherweight and Louis Taylor vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov at middleweight. The PFL will award a $1 million prize to all six winners.