Pound-for-pound stud Jon Jones won’t fight at UFC 200 on Saturday, July 9th, after he was pulled from the card on fight week due to a potential USADA anti-doping failure. Taking his place, however, will be another one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Anderson Silva (33-7 MMA, 16-3 UFC), yes, will step in to UFC 200 on just two days’ notice to fight UFC Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (17-1, 5-1) in a three-round, non-title bout tomorrow night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET, pay-per-view).
“The Spider” is perhaps the most successful fighter in UFC history. The former UFC Middleweight champ holds records for the longest UFC title reign (2,457 days), winning streak (16 fights) and most consecutive title defenses (10) in company history and will attempt to further add to his legacy by fighting one of the top talents in the sport today with essentially no time to prepare.
It’s a gutsy move, but Silva said he had no hesitation calling UFC President Dana White after Jones was removed from the card and asking for his spot.
“I think I’m in good shape and I don’t want Daniel to think I’m underestimating him or coming in here to try to challenge the champion,” Silva said after the announcement he would fight at UFC 200. “I don’t want to do that. I’m here to challenge myself. I think I haven’t trained in a few months, so now I have to go out there and put on a good fight.
“I’ve had a great UFC career, and no one has been able to beat everything I’ve done,” he continued. “I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to do what I’ve done and I’m happy to come in here and face a guy like Daniel Cormier.”
White said the fight between Silva and Cormier came together at the drop of a hat. Silva called andthe organization immediately began to push for medical clearance to get the 41-year-old Brazilian on the card. Everything went through, and while Silva will enter the fight as a betting underdog for the first time in more than a decade, White said he couldn’t be counted out.
“I think it’s an interesting, fun fight,” White said. “Anderson’s still undefeated at 205, and not just undefeated, devastatingly undefeated. Any times he’s moved up to 205 he’s looked even better than he did at 185, which is crazy.
“Anything can happen in this sport,” he continued. “[Michael] Bisping just came in and knocked out Luke Rockhold who destroyed him in their first fight. Anything is possible in a fight.”
Although Silva’s shocking addition to the UFC 200 lineup – which will now feature a Women’s Bantamweight title main event of Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes and a Heavyweight co-headliner of Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt – came at the expense of Jones, the MMA legend said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fight on the most significant fight card in UFC history.
“I was sad [about Jones],” Silva said. “I know he went though a lot and was hoping to fight Daniel Cormier. But with USADA coming into the UFC, things have gotten a lot more professional, we have to watch out for everything we put in our bodies with the supplements. And things can happen. I think something happened, and I hope he doesn’t get mad that I took his place.”
Cormier told MMA Fighting during a press conference today that he was “honored” to share the Octagon with “one of the greatest fighters of all time,” adding: “This is a very tough fight for me, and I have to fight smart and to do my best in order to win this fight. Thank you, Anderson, for stepping up, and thanks to Dana White and the UFC for making this happen. Now let’s go do this.”