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UFC 232 start time, TV schedule, who is fighting tonight at ‘Jones vs Gustafsson 2’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., Dec. 29, 2018) as it it looks to end the year with a bang as UFC 232 goes down inside The Forum in Inglewood, California. The pay-per-view (PPV) event will feature a Light Heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. In the co-main event, Cris Cyborg will put her Featherweight title on the line against Bantamweight queen, Amanda Nunes.

What’s Hot:

The long-awaited rematch between Jones and Gustafsson is here, five years after the original matchup way back at UFC 165. While it will be a rather dubious task to top that epic fight (see it here), both men are determined to do it, and all of the extra drama surrounding the rematch adds that extra spicy kick that will have tons of people tuning in. Indeed, the event was relocated during fight week from Nevada to California after an abnormality was found on one of Jones’ test (how much longer before “abnormality” gets annoying?).

While all of the “experts” have informed the promotion and USADA that nothing shady was done on Jones’ end, many are not-so quick to buy it. Nevertheless, White — who hasn’t exactly had the best relationship with “Bones” over the years — was quick to defend his star athlete.

Regardless if Jones did anything shady on his end or not, Gustafsson doesn’t seem bothered one bit. Not by the last-minute move or the failed drug test. All “The Mauler” wants to do is end the Jones era once and for all and capture his first-ever world title on his third try. And he has the skills to do it. But Jones is still one of the greatest to ever compete in mixed martial arts (MMA), and despite his long layoff, his team is adamant he’s only gotten better during his hiatus.

Many don’t feel Jones has peaked just yet, which could be bad news for Gus. On the flip side, Gustafsson is tired of always coming in second place, so you can bet he’s going to lay it all on the line to get the “W” and sweet revenge on his longtime rival. This truly is one of the best fights in a long time. And regardless if it tops the first fight or not, we should be in for one hell of a main event.

Cris Cyborg has long complained that there aren’t enough quality fighters at 145 pounds to keep her entertained. All you have to do is look back at the carnage she’s left behind since entering the Octagon a few years ago to see why. That’s why the promotion finally booked the first-ever women’s champion vs champion title fight as Nunes will go up to try and give Cris her biggest challenge to date.

Nunes has been on a tear as champion, destroying Meisha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Raquel Pennington in rather impressive fashion. Doing that against Cyborg, though, will be a tough task. But, the Brazilian bomber is game and I don’t think Cris is going to have an easy out this time around. While I am not too sure Nunes has the power to knockout Cyborg, it isn’t exactly out of the realm of possibility. If Nunes can drag her into deep water, all of that muscle Cyborg carries around could be her downfall. It’s an intriguing fight on so many levels, though it has fallen by the wayside in the promo department due to all of the drama surrounding the headlining act. Still, you can’t deny this is the best women’s fight that has ever gone down inside the Octagon. And who would’ve though that honor would’ve gone to a bout not including Ronda Rousey?

What’s Not:

There really isn’t anything to complain about for this event, though we could go on and on about how many fighters and fans got screwed over by the late change in location.

Original Card vs Actual Card:

Thankfully, nothing too major affected the event. Though there’s not to say there weren't a few close calls that could have been catastrophic.

Injuries:

The only injury reported for the event was Tom Duquesnoy bowing out of his fight against Nathaniel Wood because of some busted up ribs. As a result, Wood will now face Andrew Ewell.

How The “Prelims” Look:

This card is really pretty good from top to bottom, which means the prelims will be a good appetizer before the main course. B.J. Penn will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon as he faces his fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, Ryan Hall, in Lightweight action. Penn hasn’t competed in more than 1.5 years. As far as being in the winner’s circle, it’s been way longer. Eight years, to be exact.

That’s tough to comprehend considering Penn is still known as one of the best ever, but losing five in a row can’t be good for your legacy. Or your confidence. Still, “Baby J” is determined to get back some sense of his glory days. And though a win over Hall won’t get him any closer to a title run, it will give him a much-needed win.

Also, Cat Zingano and Megan Anderson will compete in a rather interesting and pivotal women’s Featherweight title fight that could earn the victor a shot at the winner of the night’s co-main event. Plus, Andrei Arlovski will look to pick up a much-needed win after dropping two straight when he takes on Walt Harris in a Heavyweight match up that isn’t likely to last long. Uriah Hall will look to regain some sort of relevancy after his career dropped quickly after losing four of of his last five, including his knockout loss to Paulo Costa in his previous outing. In his way is Bevon Lewis, who will look to make a splash in his Octagon debut.

New Blood:

There will only be one newcomer making his Octagon debut this Saturday night, as Bevon Lewis will look to shine on the biggest stage of them all. Undefeated at 6-0, the talented Middleweight made his mark on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series,” knocking out Elias Urbina. Still, he had to go back to the regional circuit to score another win before being invited to the big show. Coming out of the famed Jackson-Wink MMA gym in Albuquerque, N.M., that has churned out several superstars, Bevon is well-trained, talented and ready to make an impact early. To learn more about what he has to offer, check out this “New Blood” detailed breakdown from our very own Patrick L. Stumberg.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Carlos Condit has flirted with retirement on a couple of occasions. And you can’t really blame him, either, as “The Natural Born Killer” has dropped four straight including getting choked out rather violently by Demian Maia and Alex Oliveira. Still, Carlos is as game and entertaining as they come. But, if he loses his fifth fight in a row that flirtation with retirement could turn in to a full-on commitment.

His foe, Michael Chiesa, is also in search of a win after dropping back-to-back fights. He, too, was submitted in his last two fights so he’s in desperate need of a victory to get his confidence back. But, losing five in a row is just too much to overcome, so if Condit want’s to avoid getting forced into retirement he needs to come up big come fight night.

Interest Level: 10 of 10

No matter where this event goes down, people are going to tune in. And with one of UFC’s biggest box office draws making his return, this event could be the promotion’s biggest events of the year. The rematch between Jon and Gus really sells itself, but all of the drama this week adds a little extra element to it. Many questions will be answered once the dust settles. But, just as many will still be left unanswered, as well, thanks to Jones’ latest funky drug test(s).

As much as Jones, USADA and UFC claim Jones didn’t do anything wrong this time or at UFC 214, giving him the benefit of the doubt is so far gone that no one knows what to believe anymore. Unfortunately for Jones, he will more than likely always be discredited moving forward due to his tainted past. You make your bed, you lay in it. But if I have to hear “a pinch of salt in an Olympic-sized pool” or “picogram” one more time, I just may puke. I really wish someone would tell Jones to quit repeating that every 10 seconds, as it simply isn’t a good look. Why keep repeating it, seriously?

Rounding out the main card is a fight that has flown way under the radar between Chad Mendes and Alexander Volkanovski. “Money” made a successful return to action earlier this year after two years away. While Mendes looked good against Miles Jury, Volkanovski is a legit beast.

Indeed, Alexander has been impressing since making his UFC debut two years ago, winning four in a row which brings his winning streak to a whopping 15 in a row. Had you asked me to pick this fight a couple of years ago, I’d take Chad in a heartbeat. Now, I’m not too sure and I wouldn’t be surprised if Volkanovski goes in and handles business. Not one bit.

Also, Corey Anderson and Ilir Latifi will look to climb the 205-pound ladder when the two hard-hitting men collide in the center of the cage. Both men have always had that big win escape them, but a victory for either man will bump them up the rankings and set them up for bigger and better things. UFC 232 promises to be an entertaining event all the way around. And I have a feeling we are going to be talking about it way into the new year after the dust settles.

For better or worse.

Full UFC 232 Fight Card:

UFC 232 Main Event:

205 lbs.: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson for the vacant light heavyweight title (Daniel Cormier to be stripped)

UFC 232 Co-Main Event:

145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Cristiane Justino vs. UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes for “Cyborg’s” 145-pound title

UFC 232 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):

170 lbs.: Michael Chiesa vs. Carlos Condit
205 lbs.: Corey Anderson vs. Ilir Latifi
145 lbs.: Chad Mendes vs. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC 232 “Prelims” on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):

265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Walt Harris
135 lbs.: Cat Zingano vs. Megan Anderson
135 lbs.: Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Petr Yan
155 lbs.: Ryan Hall vs. B.J. Penn

UFC 232 “Prelims” on Fight Pass (6:15 p.m. ET):

135 lbs.: Andre Ewell vs. Nathaniel Wood
185 lbs.: Uriah Hall vs. Bevon Lewis
170 lbs.: Siyar Bahdurzada vs. Curtis Millender
135 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Montel Jackson

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 232 fight card tonight, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 232: “Jones vs. Gustafsson 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.