UFC 232: Misdemeanours, scores to settle, Zlatan's mate & British interest

UFC 232
UFC 232 takes place in Los Angeles on Saturday

All eyes in the mixed martial arts world will be on Los Angeles on Saturday as Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson top an exciting card at UFC 232.

American Jones and Gustafsson of Sweden will fight for the vacant light-heavyweight crown, while Cris Cyborg defends her featherweight belt against fellow Brazilian Amanda Nunes.

The event will take place in California after being moved from Las Vegas at the last minute.

Need any more reasons to get excited?

BBC Sport's Ryan Evans explains why this festive cracker is not to be missed...

It's set to be another classic

Jones returns to the octagon for the first time since being stripped of his light-heavyweight title for testing positive for a banned substance before UFC 214 in July 2017.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) found Jones, whose knockout of compatriot Daniel Cormier was recorded as a no contest, "was not intentionally cheating".

The fight was originally scheduled to be in Las Vegas, but the UFC changed the venue on Monday after the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to grant Jones a licence.

Now the 31-year-old is back and he faces another of his old rivals, taking on Gustafsson for the second time after the pair produced a fight labelled "one of the greatest in UFC history" last time out.

Jones won the closely-fought 2013 bout by unanimous decision, with both men sent to hospital to be treated for their injuries.

Jones says he was underprepared for the last contest and has vowed not to make the same mistake, while Gustafsson believes he has improved significantly in the past five years.

A Hollywood-worthy backstory

There are enough misdemeanours and comeback stories in Jones' catalogue to produce an epic trilogy, never mind a single Hollywood hit.

He was the youngest champion in UFC history, a two-time light-heavyweight title holder and the first mixed martial artist to sign a global sponsorship deal with Nike.

But he has also been stripped of titles and suspended numerous times by the UFC.

On top of doping violations, Jones has entered rehab for cocaine use - although he said he was not a frequent user - pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a road crash involving a pregnant woman and, in a separate incident, was arrested for driving under the influence.

The latest controversy surrounding Jones came this week when the UFC announced remnants of a banned substance were found in his system from the positive test that saw him banned last year.

He comes from a sporting family - with two brothers having played professional American football in the NFL - but his mother passed away last year following a long battle with diabetes.

'Zlatan's favourite fighter' wants revenge

Gustafsson doesn't believe the judges were correct in their decision after he was deemed to have lost his first bout against Jones in 2013.

The Swede even went as far as saying that he was the true winner, and will be looking to settle a score on Saturday after being further angered by the promotion agreeing to uproot the whole card because of Jones' licensing problems.

"You are a damn clown!" he told Jones on social media.

Away from the octagon, Gustafsson has enjoyed a bit of a love-in with fellow countryman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the ex-Sweden striker saying the 31-year-old is his favourite fighter.

Like Jones, Gustafsson's road to this title fight has not always been easy and he spent time prison as a teenager for grievous bodily harm.

He surprised girlfriend Moa, the mother of his two children, by proposing to her in the octagon following his defeat of Glover Teixeira in Stockholm last year.

A cracker on the undercard

There is a great title fight to whet the appetite before the main event on Saturday, as Cris Cyborg puts her featherweight belt on the line against fellow Brazilian Amanda Nunes.

Cyborg is undefeated in 13 years and has successfully defended her title three times, while Nunes currently holds the bantamweight crown.

Cyborg says she is considering a move to boxing and is nearing the end of her UFC deal.

Nunes, meanwhile, is one of the sporting faces of the LGBT community and became the first openly gay UFC fighter to win a title in 2016.

The 30-year-old, whose partner Nina Ansaroff also fights in the UFC, finished Ronda Rousey's MMA career with brutal first round TKO in 2016 and could become the first woman to hold belts at two weights.

British interest in Las Vegas

British bantamweight Nathaniel Wood will be in action for the second time in his UFC career, taking on American Andre Ewell after France's Tom Duquesnoy withdrew.

Wood impressed on his UFC debut in June when he beat Johnny Eduardo with a second-round submission in New York and was awarded Performance of the Night.

The Londoner, nicknamed 'The Prospect', says he wants to "put on a show" in Los Angeles.

The 25-year-old is keen to impress and bag himself a spot on the London card in March.


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