Gregory Payan/PA Images Jon Jones will hope the streak continues tonight.
No Bones about it
5 things to look out for at tonight's UFC 182
2015 is set to go off with a bang in the bright lights of Las Vegas

THE FESTIVE HIATUS is over and it’s time to get back down to serious business. As is their habit, the UFC have chosen to mark the new year with a card stacked to the rafters with quality match-ups.

While the tonight’s main event between light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier has understandably garnered the lion’s share of the spotlight, the preceding bouts are laden with potential gems.

What’s more, the 22 fighters who will be competing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, have been denying themselves all the gluttonous-revelry which accompanies the Christmas period. So they’re likely to be in a heightened state of aggravation. Which, of course, bodes well for compelling combat.

Here are five talking-points ahead of UFC 182:

1. Jones and Cormier finally get to settle the score

The wait is over and there’s nothing left for them to do but fight. The pair were originally meant to lock horns at UFC 178 in September so, in reality, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier have been preparing for each other for six months.

In that time insults and fists have been exchanged, fines and sanctions were handed out, all the while the loathing has steadily simmered. If anyone is to end the unprecedented reign of Jon Jones, perhaps it’s Cormier.

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An undefeated Olympian with a proven track-record against some of the world’s best heavyweights, Cormier could just be the sort of foe to undo the man who stands alone as the greatest fighter on the planet.

Or, much like Joe Frazier with Mohammad Ali, Cormier will force Jones to summon the very best version of himself and yet again heighten our expectations of what is possible inside the octagon. There is lingering feeling that, no matter what the outcome, these two are destined to fight more than once.

2. Myles Jury faces the fight of his life in Donald Cerrone

The UFC have a knack of grooming young fighters they perceive to be destined from greatness. It’s a slow process and one which requires the perspective superstar to gradually work his way through a series of mediocre, credible, then finally, dangerous opponents.

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That time has arrived for undefeated lightweight Myles Jury and that dangerous opponent comes in the shape of Donald Cerrone.

Jury has been flawless during his time in the UFC, but with all due respect to Takanori Gomi and Diego Sanchez, he has never faced a proposition as daunting as Cerrone, who is the first top ten opponent the brass have paired him with.

Not only does Cerrone have a wealth of experience against elite competition, he’s also in the form of his life. He went 4-0 during 2014 and looked spectacular doing it. If he derails Jury, the title fight which has eluded him for so long will be within touching-distance.

However, if Jury prevails, then his progression from prospect to contender will be complete.

3. Two talented middleweights in desperate need of a win

With the 185lbs division being as competitive as it has been in years, the margin for error for those in its ranks has become increasingly smaller. Regardless of past achievements, any form of losing streak could cost a fighter his job.

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Hitherto his loss at the hands of Yoel Romero at UFC on Fox 11 last April, Brad Tavares had recorded five consecutive victories and was beginning to be considered a genuine contender. His stock then fell further when he was TKO’ed by Tim Boetsch in the second round of their bout at UFC Fight Night 47. Thus, according to the UFC’s unwritten ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule, the Hawaiian’s employment status could be in peril.

He will meet Nate Marquardt, who once challenged for the middleweight title and is the former Strikeforce welterweight champion. He returned to the UFC in 2013 and was subsequently knocked out by Jake Ellenberger and Hector Lombard in his first two outings. He made the move back to middleweight to take on James Te Huna and earned a first round submission victory via armbar.

The win will have bought him some breathing room but if Tavares prevails, which he desperately needs to, Marquardt might be hard-pressed to justify his place in the world’s greatest promotion.

4. Kyoji Horiguchi on course to breach the top 10 at flyweight

The Japanese fighter is currently ranked at number 11 having notched-off three consecutive wins since joining the UFC and a win over Louis Gaudinot should see him by-pass Tim Elliot.

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Horiguchi is a powerful striker with a penchant for the knockout and, with champion Demetrious Johnson having pretty much cleared out the division at this stage, the path to a title shot has been considerably abbreviated.

5. Josh Burkman faces Hector Lombard – because nobody else would

After five years fighting in other promotions, Josh Burkman begins his second stint with the UFC with the unenviable task of negotiating the power-house that is Hector Lombard.

The UFC’s acquisition of Lombard from Bellator in 2012 was viewed as a major coup, given he had won 20 fights on the bounce and was the latter promotion’s middleweight champion. In a largely disappointing debut, the Cuban Olympic judoka lost a split-decision to Tim Boetsch.

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He would win two of his next three fights- both by knockout- before dropping down to welterweight, where he enjoys a size advantage over the majority of the divsion. He then rag-dolled former title challenger Jake Shields for three rounds and sent a clear message of intent in the process.

Among others, apparently, Tyron Woodley declined an offer to fight Lombard. Such is the barrage of power-punches and judo throws brought by Lombard in the early goings of a bout, there has been a dearth of would—be opponents for him.

Recognising an opportunity to make an immediate impact at 170lbs, Burkman has volunteered to face the naturalised-Australian. Whether or not that was a wise decision, will soon be evident.

UFC analysis: A comparison of Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier

Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier wouldn’t even look at each other at the UFC 182 weigh-in

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