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UFC 182 comes out swinging in the New Year

by Mark Burger

Since its inception in 1993, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has become a phenomenon, winning fans the world over. Late ’90s controversy about the sport’s violence “” John McCain famously denounced it as “human cockfighting” “” put the UFC on shaky ground for a time, but during the 21st century its popularity has soared.

Beyond boxing, beyond wrestling and beyond martial arts, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is just what its moniker implies.

For the legion of UFC fans, 2015 promises to be a banner year, and it gets off to a sizzling start on Saturday, Jan. 3 with the eagerly anticipated title bout between reigning UFC light heavyweight champ Jon “Bones” Jones (20-1) and the challenger, two-time Olympic wrestler and former Strikeforce Grand Prix champ Daniel Cormier (15-0).

UFC 182 will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in lovely Las Vegas, but local UFC fans can get a front-row seat of their own, as Fathom Events and UFC have re-teamed to bring the event to over 150 theaters around the nation, including the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16. The live broadcast will feature the title match as well as several under-card bouts leading up to the climactic collision between Jones and Cormier in the Octagon.

“We’re excited to kick off another year of non-stop Octagon action with UFC 182,” declared John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events, in an official statement. “Fight fans have been clamoring for more bouts in movie theaters all across the nation “” (and) we’re happy to give it to them, starting with this pulse-pounding fight.”

Indeed, in line with Rubey’s comments, this is just the first in a barrage of UFC screening events already lined up for 2015, including UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz (Jan. 31), UFC 184: Weidman vs. Belfort (Feb. 28) and UFC 185 (March 14). All bouts are live and subject to change.

Not surprisingly, it’s Jones/Cormier clash that has aroused the most interest. When Jones won the light heavyweight title in 2011, he was the youngest champion in UFC history. He has defended his title seven consecutive times, and set the record in the light heavyweight division. Earlier this year, during a promotional event with Jones and Cormier present, the two got into a brawl after which Jones was fined and penalized by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Clearly, there’s no love lost between these two warriors.

The co-main event features top lightweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (25-6) taking on fast-rising UFC newcomer Myles “Fury” Jury (15-0). Also scheduled for the Jan. 3 event are bouts between Cuban Olympic judoka and ranked welterweight Hector Lombard (34-1-1) battling Josh Burkman (27-10), who’s returning to UFC competition after time away. Brad Tavares (12-4) will take on former Strikeforce champ Nate Marquardt (36-13-2), lightweight grappling specialists Rustam Khabilov (17-2) and Danny Castillo (17-7), hard-hitting flyweights Kyoki Horiguchi (14-1) and Louis Gaudinot (7-3), Evan Dunham (14-6) and Rodrigo Damm (12-8), and Omari Akhmedov (13-2) and Mats Nilsson (11-3-1) are also getting ready to rumble in this full-throttle, full-contact UFC extravaganza.

Wanna Go?

UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier will be screened live 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3 at Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro). Tickets are $20 (general admission). For advance tickets or more information, visit the official Fathom Events website: www.FathomEvents.com. For current fight news, the official UFC website is www.ufc.com.

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