Armchair matchmakers never rest in MMA, and that fact was abundantly clear in the aftermath of UFC 172, when throngs of fight fans rushed to book Anthony Johnson against the best the UFC's light heavyweight division had to offer after "Rumble" dismantled No. 4 ranked Phil Davis.
Among the most popular angles in the "Rumble" discussion was to throw him against the winner of UFC 173's co-main event between Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson, a bout which is supposed to crown the next challenger for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. And while Cormier appreciates everyone volunteering him for yet another stiff test, the undefeated former Olympian has other plans in mind.
"I've waited long enough," Cormier said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "This will be my fifth top-10 win, and I'm not fighting anyone else. I'm going to sit and wait and get better, and I'm going to wait to fight Jon Jones."
"If it took nine months, I'd wait nine months. It's time for me to fight for the belt. It's not that I'm afraid I'll lose to any of these guys, because I don't believe that. I think I can beat them all. I just think that at a point, you have to make a stand about what's important for me. Eventually one of these guys is going to take me to the edge and make me have to fight. Dan Henderson could potentially be that guy. I may need a lot of time between fights. The only reason I haven't needed so much time is because I haven't really been pressed."
Both Cormier and Henderson confirmed that their upcoming number-one contender bout was initially supposed to take place July 5th at UFC 175, however injuries and circumstance ultimately ripped apart the UFC's summer schedule, and now the two light heavyweights are scheduled to fight on May 24th at UFC 173.
For his part, Cormier didn't appear bothered by the switch, mentioning that the condensed, seven-week training camp he'll now get to prepare will be less taxing than the 12-week camp he expected.
Though the fact that Henderson, at age 43, will be fighting just two months after sustaining substantial damage against Shogun Rua at UFC Fight Night 38 did give Cormier pause.
"I'm a little surprised that he's fighting as fast as he is," Cormier admitted. "I mean, he did get rocked pretty good in that fight, he got dinged pretty good. Normally you need to give yourself some time to recover and let your brain kind of resettle. It's a quick turnaround for Dan Henderson.
"This may be the quickest turnaround he's had in quite some time. So yeah, I was a little surprised, but also I like Dan Henderson. I look up to Dan Henderson for the idea that, if you ask Dan Henderson to fight, he probably just says, ‘well what's the name of the venue' and ‘tell me the date and I'll be there.'"
Henderson's situation is unique in that, had Rua managed to put him in away either of the two instances he had Henderson on wobbly legs, it would've marked Henderson's fourth consecutive loss and the inevitable calls for his retirement would've come flooding in.
Ultimately, Henderson survived to knock Rua's lights out with a third-round H-bomb, but Cormier admits that, when coupled with Henderson's recent brutal knockout loss to Vitor Belfort, the performance signified a somewhat worrisome trend.
"We talk about his chin now, and he's falling down," Cormier said of Henderson. "He never used to fall down. His grit and his determination are carrying him through these tough situations where he's still able to get victories, but it's showing signs that he's taken some damage. So I don't necessarily like that aspect of it, but I do respect and appreciate how much of a warrior spirit and how much of a fighter Dan Henderson really is."
Regardless, Cormier is looking forward to a duel against Henderson much more than he was for his light heavyweight debut against Patrick Cummins, because, he said, it'll be a joy to "fight someone that I respect on a high level, someone that's been through everything that I've been through, somebody that's competed at the highest level for a long time, and a person that I like."
As for Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2, Cormier already has his mind made up who will emerge victorious -- a fact which became clear when host Ariel Helwani asked him if Gustafsson stands a chance to dethrone the record-breaking champ.
"No chance," Cormier flatly replied, before amending his answer.
"Let me rephrase that. I'm not saying he doesn't have a chance. I'm just saying that if I had to bet my money, or if I asked 10 people who wins this fight, nine out of those 10 people would say Jon Jones, because honestly, I believe that he's better because he has more tools.
"When you look at Jon on paper against a lot of people, he seems to match up well against every single one of us. He seems to holds the advantages against every single one of us. It's the intangibles. It's the things that you can't measure on a piece of paper that it's going to take to beat Jon Jones -- the things that I believe I hold in spades.
"I've been winning my entire life," Cormier said in closing. "That's all I know how to do, and that's what I plan on continuing to do as I finish my mixed martial arts career. I'm not trying to sound arrogant or cocky in any way. I know how to win. I know that at the end of the day, when I step in the cage with most guys that I fight, I've done more things right over the course of my lifetime and over the course of my athletic career than they have. And that's what carries me."