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Daniel Cormier: I need Jon Jones back, so I can 'stop playing around with these guys'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- Daniel Cormier said after winning the UFC light heavyweight title over Anthony Johnson four months ago that he would be fine if Jon Jones never came back and tried to regain the belt. Cormier seems to have changed his tune a bit now.

"Obviously, I need [Jones]," Cormier said Friday at the Go Big press conference. "As I move forward, in this fight in October and I face Alexander [Gustafsson], I need that guy. I need that guy to get back in here and fight me again. For my journey to be complete and for me to be complete as I finish this sport, I need him. And honestly, I wish him all the best so that he can actually get back and I can stop playing around with these guys and get back to business."

Jones defended his light heavyweight title successfully against Cormier at UFC 182 back in January via unanimous decision. However, Jones was suspended and stripped of the belt in April following a felony hit-and-run arrest. There is no timetable for Jones' return with the legal process still playing itself out.

With Jones out, Cormier fought and beat Johnson for the vacant title at UFC 187 in May. He'll make his first defense against Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 192 on Oct. 3 in Houston. Cormier doesn't think he needs to beat Gustafsson to cement himself as champ.

"I think beating Anthony Johnson solidifies that," Cormier said. "He knocked me halfway across the Octagon. It's about me. I don't really care too much about people saying I don't have a real belt. I know how hard I've worked. I know how hard I've committed to this goal. I get my hand raised when I fight. I've lost once and every other time I've dominated the competition. That will not change on Oct. 3. I think that Alexander Gustafsson is a good fighter, but there is levels to this fighting and I'm just a little bit better than he is."

Cormier (16-1) also poked fun at Gustafsson's calling card. The big Swede has become known most for giving Jones the toughest fight of his career back in 2013. Gustafsson nearly beat Jones and shocked the world in a five-round war. Since then, though, Gustafsson has a win over Jimi Manuwa and a first-round knockout loss against Johnson back in January.

"If I was Alexander Gustafsson, honestly, I would probably be a little upset at you guys, because you always talk about how close he fought Jon Jones," Cormier said sarcastically. "What about his Earth-shattering win over Jimi Manuwa or his, uhh, monumental win that was ... do you know? I mean really, somebody else. You guys talk about a fight that he lost. He lost. Let's stop talking about the fight that he lost and talk about something that this guy has done positive. And when you look at it that way, you guys know exactly what's going to happen on Oct. 3. He's going to lose to me.

"When you look at it objectively and not because he fought a guy closer than I fought him, you realize what's going to happen on Oct. 3. Out of respect for Alexander, please talk about some of these Earth-shattering wins that he has over the course of his career."

Cormier, 36, was an NCAA wrestling runnerup and Olympian. But he never achieved the gold in his original sport. He has now and Cormier makes no apologies for the fact that he did it with Jones away from the Octagon.

"Over the course of my life, I've always kind of come short and obviously having this now and winning under the circumstances that I fought under, I got the job done," Cormier said. "For me, I've been fighting for a short period of time. It's been 5 ½ years and I've won the Strikeforce championship and the UFC championship, so I'm good. This is going as good as I could have ever imagined."

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