There was the press conference brawl, the heated verbal exchange caught on hot mics, an encounter in an MGM hallway and numerous press conferences and staredowns. The lead up to the UFC 182 main event took on a life of its own.
"As much as it sucked to lose, I thought that after that fight I would be separated from him," Cormier said on a UFC 187 media conference call Wednesday. "It was welcome. It was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulder to not have to be so consumed with Jon Jones. It had consumed my life. Looking back I can tell how emotionally involved I was."
It isn't like that this time around. Cormier will get another chance at the light heavyweight title when he meets Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas. The aura of Jones might be lurking inside MGM Grand that night, but Cormier doesn't have to deal with any of that nearly tangible drama now.
"The first time, the build up was insane," Cormier said. "With all the stuff that Jon and I went through, fighting at that press conference and stuff, the build up was insane and it wore on me. And I was so emotionally attached to that promotion and that fight that I think at a point the energy was just kind of drained out of me. This time feels good."
Cormier is actually replacing Jones in this spot. Jones was supposed to defend his title against Johnson, but was stripped of the belt and suspended indefinitely April 28, one day after being arrested on a felony hit-and-run charge. Cormier was the logical man to fill in after going five hard rounds with Jones in a unanimous decision loss on Jan. 3.
"I went and fought the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and left the Octagon healthy," Cormier said. "I left the Octagon without taking much damage. I didn't get all cut up like most guys he fought. I wasn't bleeding. I think I may have had a bloody nose and that was pretty much the extent of my injuries after 25 minutes of fighting Jones."
Neither Cormier or Johnson wants to take anything away from Jones with regards to what he has accomplished in the Octagon. Both men acknowledge him as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. However, it's not like they can wait on their hands until his legal issues get cleared up.
For Cormier, this is a new challenge and a breath of fresh air. He likes Johnson, who he has known since they did college wrestling camps together more than a decade ago. He thinks "Rumble" is a good guy.
Cormier did not feel that way about Jones. And Jones didn't feel that way about him, either. The two didn't like each other and they still don't. Jones wasn't exactly gracious in victory four months ago.
One of the most combustible rivalries in UFC history has not gone away. But it's at least on hold. Cormier won't have to worry about those emotions bubbling over in this five-round title fight.
"Looking back at the whole thing from the press conference to Jon and I trying to fight in the MGM, in that corridor, the press conference jawing at each other," Cormier said. "And then just feeling myself in the Octagon that night and that [adrenaline] dump. That it was finally happening and then having that dump. It was like, wow."