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Jon Jones: Had to 'earn the respect' of the wrestling community versus Daniel Cormier

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS – In the end, Jon Jones didn't bury the hatchet on the bitter feud between him and Daniel Cormier. He just proved he's the superior fighter.

Jones scored a unanimous decision victory over Cormier at UFC 182 on Saturday night, defending his light heavyweight title for the eighth time. This fight, which was embroiled with lingering bad blood between him and Cormier that goes back four years, was supposed to be his biggest challenge.

If it was, he didn't show it.

And as Jones has done in previous fights, he even beat the storied wrestler Cormier at his own game. Asked if he relished taking Cormier down and outwrestling him throughout the fight, he said he did take extra joy in it.

"Yeah, absolutely," Jones said in the post-fight press conference. "My wrestling coach, he is a wrestling coach right now. A lot of these coaches in MMA, they focus on MMA wrestling. My coach, his high school wrestling team is ranked tenth in the nation. They have been for several years -- Israel Martinez. He's just very connected to the wrestling community.

"And he said, the whole wrestling community is against you right now. And he said, 'we have to improve, Jon. We have to show these guys that if you would have went D-1, that you would have been a national wrestling champion. That if you had went for the Olympics, you would have placed at the Olympics. We have to show them that you use the gifts for MMA, not wrestling. Because your dream got cut short, and you had a kid and you had to give up wrestling, doesn't mean that you can't wrestle with these great wrestlers.'"

When Jones defended his title against Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 in 2013, he heard similar ideas about how wrestling might beat him. In that fight, he took Sonnen down and worked his ground and pound, just to "prove a point," he said at the time.

But Sonnen coming up a weight class to challenge the bigger Jones wasn't the same as Cormier coming down from heavyweight to face him. In the end, though, the results were the same.

"So, we had a chip on our shoulder," the 27-year old Jones said. "Our goal was to go out there, have faith in our wrestling to take him down, and to earn the respect from the wrestling community. I applaud the coach for building up my belief and believing in me.

"As far as beating him at his own style, I watched his fights so much, that I actually absorbed who he is. I absorbed grinding. I watched him against Frank Mir against the cage, and I was just like, I see what you're doing there. I just watch my opponents so much I start to subconsciously inherit their talent and their gifts. So a lot of times you see me do exactly what they want to do to me do to them."