Conventional wisdom pegged ring rust as the reason why Jon Jones, the fighter regarded by so many as the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time, didn't quite look like himself in his first fight in 16 months.
Others point out that his opponent at UFC 197, Ovince Saint Preux, is far tougher than he's gotten credit for. OSP, after all, has been in there with everyone from Shogun Rua to Glover Teixeira, and he's never been knocked out in his 16 combined UFC and Strikeforce fights.
But Jones' nemesis, UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, has another theory. While Cormier gives a nod to ring rust, he also believes that the larger, more plodding Jones on display in Las Vegas is a permanent replacement for the explosive and dynamic striker who held the 205-pound title for four years.
"I think this is Jon, this is the new Jon, this is Jon Jones with all the muscle," Cormier said on The MMA Hour. "This is Jon Jones that likes to lift weights, who's a big guy that's cutting weight and can't rehyrdate the old way under USADA rules. This is Jon Jones in the real world today, so when we fight in July he's going to look the same."
Cormier, who lost to Jones in their first matchup at UFC 182 via unanimous decision and will rematch him in the main event of UFC 200, believes he saw the seeds of doubt planted in his rival's mind when Jones couldn't put OSP away.
‘He's going to have questions. And he's going to question himself, and you could see him processing things inside the cage. He'll go home now and he'll wonder, guess what bud, that's who you are now. That's how he'll look to July when I'm kicking your ass."
At the postfight press conference, Jones said the change of opponents -- he was supposed to fight Cormier at UFC 197, but the latter pulled out with a leg injury -- was the chief culprit for the fight going the distance. But Cormier isn't buying that one, either.
"You know from a guy that again said ‘I want to thank my Lord and Savior for getting me here,' then flipped me off two minutes later, you understand he flip flops," Cormier said. "In the Octagon he said the issue was he prepared to fight me and Ovince is a southpaw. If you watch the fight, OSP was fighting conventional almost the entire time."