It was not a smooth path to UFC 197, which takes place tonight (Sat., April 23, 2016) inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, but it never really is drama-free when Jon Jones graces the top of the pay-per-view (PPV) marquee.
The former Light Heavyweight champion returns from an 18-month layoff this weekend to battle Ovince Saint Preux for the interim 205-pound title. It's not the fight fans -- nor Jones -- wanted, though, as division champion Daniel Cormier was forced to withdraw from the main event (read full details here) opposite Jones because of an injury sustained while training for the highly anticipated rematch.
Prior to that mess Jones once again found himself mired in another, jailed several days for a probation violation that could have derailed his participation in the event altogether. The good news? Jones was permitted to fly to "Sin City" under certain legal conditions and, perhaps more promising, hired a full-time driver to ensure his vehicular ineptitude did not land him in hot water once again.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who will defend his title once again against Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler (2008) Henry Cejudo. Johnson sits right behind Jones on the top pound-for-pound fighter list (No. 2), due in large part to his absolute dominance in the 125-pound division. "Mighty Mouse" has defended his title seven consecutive times since winning the inaugural belt in 2012. And he's motivated to break the all-time title defense record (Anderson Silva, 10) and cement his status as one of the most decorated UFC champions in history.
That's not all, though. UFC 197 features an explosive Lightweight showdown between Top 10-ranked dynamic strikers Anthony Pettis and Edson Barboza, as well as surging The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Smashes" winner, Robert Whittaker, looking to continue his climb up the Middleweight ranks at the expense of dangerous veteran, Rafael Natal.
It's going to be good!
Check out the complete UFC 197 line up below:
UFC 197 PPV Main Event:
205 lbs.: Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux for UFC Light Heavyweight Interim Championship (Daniel Cormier injured)
UFC 197 PPV Co-Main Event:
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo
UFC 197 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Anthony Pettis
185 lbs.: Rafael Natal vs. Robert Whittaker
145 lbs.: Andre Fili vs. Yair Rodriguez
UFC 197 FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Chris Kelades vs. Sergio Pettis
170 lbs.: Danny Roberts vs. Dominique Steele
115 lbs.: Juliana Lima vs. Carla Esparza
155 lbs.: Glaico Franca vs. James Vick
UFC 197 Fight Pass "Prelims" (6:30 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Cody East vs. Walt Harris
185 lbs.: Clint Hester vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
155 lbs.: Efrain Escudero vs. Kevin Lee
For the latest, LIVE updates and UFC 197: "Jones vs. Saint Preux" results TONIGHT click here.