"Rumble" told reporters Thursday in Sao Paulo, Brazil that he does not think Cormier should be asking the UFC for a break. Cormier, the UFC light heavyweight champion, expressed that desire after defeating Alexander Gustafsson via split decision at UFC 192 last month.
"Daniel is his own man," said Johnson, who lost to Cormier by third-round submission at UFC 187 in May. "I don't know why he would say he wants six months off. Maybe he wants time to heal, spend more time with his family, train more to perfect his craft. I don't know. Do I see it as being selfish? No. But I want to say this: I don't feel like he's earned it enough to say, 'I need six months off.'"
Cormier is very likely to get a rematch with former champ Jon Jones next. Jones beat Cormier by unanimous decision at UFC 182 back in January, but was suspended and stripped of the belt after a felony hit-and-run arrest in April. Cormier beat Johnson for the vacant belt at UFC 187.
Jones was reinstated by the UFC last month following a third-party investigation. The pound-for-pound king was given a conditional discharge by an Albuquerque, N.M., judge in September after pleading guilty. Jones was told to complete 72 days of community work with children and given 18 months supervised probation. If those two things are completed without incident, the 28-year-old won't do any jail time and will not be charged with a felony.
Johnson said if Jones was the one asking the UFC for a few months off, it would be understandable due to his long tenure as titleholder.
"If Jon was still the champ after two years of whooping ass and he says, 'Dude, I need six or eight months off,' you deserve those six to eight months," Johnson said. "You know what I mean? Because you've put in the time, you've put in the work. Not saying Daniel didn't do that. But I think he should keep grinding. That's to me, in my opinion, that's what Daniel does. He should just keep grinding before it gets too late, because there's a lot of hungry guys coming up. It's only a matter of time before his body is gonna say, 'no more.' Give [him] six months off again, he might not be performing the same. So he needs to stay active, you know what I mean?"
"Rumble" sees a Jones-Cormier rematch being "10 times more violent" than the first encounter. But it seems like he sees the end game being the same: Jones with his hand raised.
"Jon didn't make it look easy, but he didn't make it look that hard, either," Johnson said of the first fight. "I think Jon is definitely gonna do his thing. I think the next time they fight, Jon is definitely gonna try and put him away. I think the first fight Jones was just kind of playing around with him a little bit, to see what he had to offer. But I think this time, Jon is definitely gonna try to end it just to put a stamp on everything."
Regardless of when the two fight, Johnson thinks Jones' return has put the 205-pound division on notice.
"With Jon coming back, it definitely lights a fire under my ass," he said. "I think it lights a fire under everybody, because now we know that it's gotten serious again. To me, Jon was always the champ regardless of anything. Of course, he didn't lose a fight to have the title taken away from him. It was his actions outside of fighting. But that's another story."
Johnson, coming off a second-round knockout win over Jimi Manuwa at UFC 191 in September, will fight Ryan Bader in the main event of UFC on FOX 18 on Jan. 30 in Newark, N.J., it was announced Wednesday on UFC Tonight. A victory there could very well put "Rumble" right back as the No. 1 contender. That could mean fans will get the intended UFC 187 main event between Jones and Johnson at some point in 2016. "AJ" says he's ready for it if it happens.
"If we do fight for a title, I'll always feel like I have the upper hand every fight," Johnson said. "But Jon is tricky. He's long, he's athletic. He catches you with weird kicks and weird elbows at different angles. You just have to be ready for Jon Jones. That's just a guy you can never really plan for. You just have to go in there and fight his ass."