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Why Jon Jones refuses to bring his belt out to his corner for title defenses

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Esther Lin

LAS VEGAS - When Jon Jones takes his corner after walking out for his UFC 182 title defense against Daniel Cormier on Jan. 3, don't expect any of his cornermen to display his light heavyweight title belt for fans and television viewers to see.

"I would never bring my belt out to the cage," Jones told reporters at last week's "The Time is Now" media event.

The reason? Before Jones' title-winning effort against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128 in 2011, the then-champion's brother, Murilo "Ninja" Rua, showed off the title belt in the "Shogun's" corner.

One glimpse at the gold was all it took for a nervous Jones to settle down and focus on the task at hand.

"When I fought Shogun, his brother Ninja Rua brought the belt out to the cage," Jones said. "And when I was in the cage and I saw Ninja was holding the belt over Shogun, I remember feeling this feeling in my heart that there was nothing in the Octagon that could happen where I wouldn't leave without that belt. It reminded me why I was there, what I was there for."

Jones went out and dominated Rua, finally earning the TKO victory over his game opponent in the third round.

"I'm watching Shogun, and then I just see that belt and all my nervousness went away," Jones said. "Everything went away. I was like, ‘whoa, the belt is right there. I can view this. It's so close. I'm probably going home with the belt.' I just became superhuman after that and that's probably why Shogun lost so much. That belt, I got to see it right before the fight. You dangled it over me."

Needless to say, in a rivalry with Cormier that has witnessed plenty of mind games on both sides, Jones has no intention of giving DC any sort of psychological boost.

"For the contender, just to see that right before the match?" Jones asked. "It's like drinking a gallon of water right before walking into the desert, you know what I mean?"