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Jon Jones compares fighting Daniel Cormier to fighting Chael Sonnen

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- Say what you will about Jon Jones, but it's rare to see the UFC's light heavyweight champion caught in the theatrical world of ‘beef' quite like he is with UFC 182 rival Daniel Cormier.

In fact, only twice before have we even seen Jones approach something like this. First with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, though that relationship always seemed more snippy than anything. The second time was Rashad Evans, and that one was bad. A jilted former training partner who bickered endlessly with Jones for a year, Evans appears to be the closest parallel to Jones' feud with Cormier that we have... although Jones disagrees.

"I wouldn't say this feels like the Rashad fight. It actually feels closer to the Chael Sonnen fight," Jones told "Chael Sonnen had a job commentating and broadcasting. He's a very good talker, and he has a way of making people believe.

"Daniel, he definitely has a great skillset and he's undefeated, but I think some of the things he says and the way he can relay a message verbally almost makes people believe in him a little bit more. I think if you actually look at our styles and our résumés, and not just listen to the things he says all the time, you may look at the fight a little differently."

It's true that Cormier, like Sonnen, hasn't shied away from using his public pulpit to preach the book of breaking "Bones."

Whether it's via his co-hosting spot on ‘UFC Tonight,' during interviews across major FOX networks, or simply through his Twitter account, Cormier has needled Jones relentlessly ever since the two light heavyweights brawled inside the lobby of the MGM Grand this past August. The Olympian's insults have ranged from the tame ("You are just terrible.") to the profane ("I wish they would let me next door so I could spit in your f**king face."), but through it all, the only slight that seems to have caught Jones' attention is Cormier's continued claim that when he beats Jones, people are going to be surprised how easy it looks.

"He reminds me of Chael Sonnen when he says things like that," Jones said dismissively. "No disrespect to Chael. Big fan of Chael, I really developed a respect for Chael. But Chael was very good at the antics and saying things that just aren't true. For him to say he's going to make it look easy, I know for a fact he doesn't believe that in his heart. How can you say that? I don't know what he's seeing in my footage of my fights, but to say he believes he'll win is one thing. To say he'll make it look easy is just, it's like saying I can fly. It holds no weight.

"He has a lot of doubt," Jones continued. "He's trying to make himself believe. Talk himself into just believing some of the crazy things he's been saying. I believe ultimately when it comes fight night, he's going to look back on everything he said and it's just going to create more pressure for him."

Back and forth, back and forth. It's been like this for years, it seems, all culminating in what likely will be the most lucrative fight of both Jones' and Cormier's careers. But external noise aside, the stylistic pairing between the two light heavyweights may also go down as the most compelling test of Jones' four-year title reign.

Jones and Cormier are, effectively, total opposites. The champion, a lanky six-foot-four prodigy with boundless creativity and the division's longest reach to boot, versus the challenger, a five-foot-eleven former Olympic captain who entered the UFC already well into his 30s. The only traits the two men share are unnatural competitiveness and dominance over their peers, and those within Jones' circle understand the danger the champ faces.

"Cormier's wrestling is obviously his big strength, but he also has incredible speed and power," said Jones' head trainer Greg Jackson. "He's really fast. I think a lot of people in the world don't understand how fast that dude is for that weight.

"But what he does better than anybody I've almost seen in MMA -- he's probably one of the best -- is he paces the round extremely well. He'll take you down. He'll do some damage. He'll look to finish you. But then he realizes where he is. So now there's two minutes left in the round, he's obviously won the round, so he'll still move. He's not going to lose the round, but he realizes it's now a 10-9 round. So he'll do enough, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, to keep that round and then he'll eek it out.

"He's really smart about it," Jackson added. "Like, you don't really see fighters understand where they are. Usually they're so into the moment in time that they don't understand. Meanwhile you'll see Daniel look at the clock all the time. Boom, boom, boom, and then he'll look up. ‘Okay, I've got a minute and a half.' Then you'll see him go to his jab and his right hands, his movement. He's a master of pacing that round out.

"Something like that doesn't sound like it's a big deal, but if it's the fourth round and he's eked out every round like that, that's dangerous. He'll take the title by inches. So that's one of the main things we have to worry about. Daniel, not only is he technically dangerous, but he's a really sharp guy."

In the end, the bad blood will be settled Jan. 3, back where it all began -- Las Vegas, Nev., in what will assumedly be a sold out and raucous MGM Grand Garden Arena. It's there the talking will finally cease... but until then, Jones can't help but chuckle at seeing Cormier get so dang worked up all the time.

"He definitely seems a lot more emotional than I am," Jones said. "It's a big opportunity for him. I'm sure his emotions are all over the place when it comes to this fight.

"I have a lot of emotion as well, I'm just more experienced than he is. I heard him say in interviews that I've had lots of championships and to him this is everything. This is his first one. This is his whole world. You know, this is my whole world too. I just know how to compose myself a little better than him. I've been doing this since I was 23 years old."

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