UFC 187 in Las Vegas (on May 23, 2015) was supposed to feature Jon Jones defending his Light Heavyweight title, but after the champ was stripped of his belt and suspended because of his role in a hit-and-run, Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier will now duke it out for the belt.
Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort – who were originally slated to meet at UFC 173 – will battle for the Middleweight title in the co-main event.
The big men will also get their time to shine at UFC 187 as Travis Browne takes on Andrei Arlovski in what should be an entertaining heavyweight clash.
Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort
Chris Weidman, the reigning Middleweight champ, is 12-0 after earning a unanimous decision victory against Lyoto Machida in July. He won the title by knocking out Anderson Silva two summers ago, and defended the belt against Silva in the final days of 2013. The New York native has five career wins by KO, three by submission, and four by decision.
At the age of 38, Vitor Belfort is eight years the senior of Weidman. Since losing to Jones at UFC 152 in 2012, Belfort earned a TKO win over Michael Bisping, knocked out Luke Rockhold using a spinning heel kick, and KOed Dan Henderson via a first-round head kick. He is 24-10 all time and 10-2 since the start of 2007. Belfort has ten career KOs.
Belfort is about a 4/1 dog to take unseat Weidman as champ, while Weidman is a little better than 1/4 to keep his belt. With the younger Weidman seemingly getting better with each passing fight, expect the “All American” to come out on top.
Anthony Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier
Anthony Johnson, the top-rated Light Heavyweight in the world, gets his first title opportunity after winning nine straight matches. He last lost at UFC 142 against Belfort. In January, Johnson earned a TKO (via punches) in the first round against Alexander Gustafsson. That followed on the heels of a round-one KO of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last July. Johnson is 19-4 overall and 13 of the heavy-handed 31-year-old’s wins have come by knockout.
After 15 straight wins to begin his career, former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier is looking to bounce back from a unanimous loss to Jones at UFC 182 (his first title chance). He made his Light Heavyweight debut with two fights in 2014, beating Patrick Cummins by TKO (via punches) and choking out Dan Henderson. The 36 year old is 15-1 with six knockouts. Cormier is a 2/3 favorite, while Johnson is about a 3/2 underdog in what should be a massively entertaining, back-and-forth bout.
Travis Browne vs. Andrei Arlovski
Browne is expected to improve to 18-2-1 when he faces Arlovski. Younger by four years, and two inches taller, Browne’s only two losses are against Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum. He earned a first-round TKO over Brendan Schaub in December and has 13 career KOs. Arlovski, a native of Belarus, is 23-10 all time and beat Silva in September after earning a split decision against Schaub last June. He has 16 knockouts to his credit, and has been knocked out seven times.
The Belarusian is a 7/2 underdog despite winning four straight fights.
Elsewhere on themain card, Donald Cerrone will take on John Makdessi in a Lightweight tilt, and Flyweights Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga will give the fans some frantic, diminutive action.
(Photo credit: Peter Gordon (Flickr: Darren Elkins) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)