It took two failed attempts for the UFC to put Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and Daniel Cormier back in the octagon together at UFC 214.
First came UFC 197, which was supposed to see Jones return to try to earn back his belt from new champ Cormier, but instead saw the match cancelled after Cormier pulled out with a leg injury. The rematch was then slated for UFC 200, but cancelled once again after it was revealed that Jones failed a drug test.
While a third cancellation would have been an enormous headache for the UFC, it seems that possibility nearly came to be, as Jones reportedly suffered a significant arm injury just two days before his eventual return at UFC 214.
“A couple of nights before the fight, he couldn’t lift his arm,” Jones’ coach Mike Winkeljohn said on Submission Radio on Thursday. “He had hurt it wrestling. He wrestled a little too hard with his partner and maybe from a lack of warm up, I’m not sure, but it was kind scary… In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Are you going to be able to underhook with that arm? Or if not, you have to use a lot more frames and more downward pressure and circle the opposite direction, so game plan might have to be changed a little bit if it doesn’t get healed.’
“So there were a lot of things going through the coaches’ minds. Who knows what was going through Jon’s mind.”
Despite the potential game-changer, Jones was adamant about making the fight and getting his shot at the belt, according to his coach.
“It was kind of scary that nobody knew about it,” Winkeljohn said. “But Jon is who he is – he’s as tough as they come and like I said, nobody beats Jon Jones but himself. Once he decides he wants to win a fight, he’s going to win.”
Jones returned to defeat longtime rival Cormier by way of a third-round knockout, reclaiming both the light heavyweight title and his place atop the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.