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Daniel Cormier says he's the real champion because 'I didn't disqualify myself from competition'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After his victory over Anthony Johnson to become the new UFC light heavyweight champion on Saturday night, Daniel Cormier made it clear that he felt like the real champion.

Cormier said in the UFC 187 post-fight press conference that just because he didn't defeat erstwhile champion Jon Jones -- who was stripped of his belt in April after a hit-and-run felony charge in Albuquerque -- doesn't mean the gold around his waist isn't legitimate.

"You see what's sitting right there? That's a gold belt," he said. "That thing's reserved for the UFC champion. I didn't disqualify myself from competition. Jon did. Jon's the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world. We all know that. But, he disqualified himself from this competition right now. So I am the champion. I'm very proud of what I accomplished tonight.

"I fought a very tough guy that deserved to be there. If anything, I think what tonight showed is that if Jon Jones can get his stuff together, I mean, how special is he? That I just beat the guy that people thought that he could beat and he just beat me. So I mean, we can't take this guy for granted, he's a special talent. "

Cormier (16-1) lost to Jones via unanimous decision at UFC 182 on January 3 in Las Vegas. He was slated to face Ryan Bader in June, but with Jones being stripped of the title was given the opportunity to fight for the belt just five months later. He made the most of the opportunity by scoring a third-round submission (rear-naked choke) after surviving a tumultuous opening sequence where he got dropped by a big shot.

Cormier reiterated that he thought that a champion needs to be a champion in all walks of life.

"It's not about Jon Jones inside of the ring," he said. "You have to be a champion in all facets of life. It's unfortunate, but I believe he'll get his stuff together and him and I will fight again. I said I'm the kid at the wrestling tournament who's always in your bracket. It's not just one tournament. It's over the course of the year. So maybe Jon beat me at a dual meet at a regional tournament, but there's still a state tournament and a national tournament. So there's plenty of times for him and I to compete against each other."

Cormier surprised many viewers of Saturday's pay-per-view for not seizing the moment to legitimize himself during his in-cage interview with Joe Rogan.

He explained why his only words were for Jon Jones to get his sh*t together.

"At the end of the day...I've been doing this for five years," he said. "And you guys know that competition drives me. Five months ago I was crying in front of each and every one of you because [Jones] beat me. So I'd love to compete against him. But he's going to be away for awhile."

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