For the fourth time in the last couple of years, it looks like Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are on a collision course to meet. With Cormier having defending his light heavyweight title against Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 this past weekend, Jones — who was cage side for the fight — would seem to be logical next opponent.
Yet, as MMA fans know by now, it’s complicated. It always is.
Jones is serving out his one-year, USADA-mandated suspension for violating the banned substance policy, which prevented the two from meeting at UFC 200 just days before the fight at UFC 200. And UFC president Dana White has gone on record saying that he doesn’t trust Jones to be featured in a main event, given Jones’ ongoing struggles both in and out of competition.
Take into account that Jones and Cormier have been booked to fight three times — with only one of those coming to fruition, back at UFC 182, a fight Jones won via unanimous decision — and it’s becomes a scenario that is as exhausting as it is alluring.
Cormier was a guest on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, and he said it kind of peeved him to see Jones cage side in Buffalo for his fight with Johnson.
“You know, earlier in the week I was like man, I don’t know why he’s hanging around,” Cormier said. “You know, I said it multiple times, it seems desperate. You can’t even do anything about what you’re talking about at this point right now. You just finished another round of community service, you can’t do anything. He can’t do anything. So, you know, he did annoy me.
“But, my whole thought was, I didn’t want to see him in the arena. I was like, man if I don’t have to see this guy it would be good, and he’s standing next to Luke [Rockhold]. And before every fight I hug Luke, so I was like, or there he is. He’s got a really bad haircut. So that was good. I was like, oh there he is, and he looks like sh*t.”
Cormier was able to defeat Johnson in a bizarrely familiar fight to their first encounter at UFC 187. The big difference this time through was that Johnson somewhat inexplicably tried to wrestle the collegiate All-American/Olympic wrestler Cormier. He also tapped out a little earlier, this time in the second round from a rear-naked choke (same submission he tapped to the first time).
Afterwards, Cormier dismissed Jimi Manuwa, who was also at the fights, and made it known that his business with Jones wasn’t done. He echoed that sentiment on Monday.
“Right now, I don’t know [when and where], I can’t make that decision,” he said. “But [the] opponent I know: Jones. One-hundred percent. This is what I’ve wanted since the day we walked out of the Octagon in January 2015. I’ve never made any secrets about it. I’ve always said that I want to fight him again.
“But if [Jones] for reason wants to fight someone else and maybe get his sea legs back, [okay] — because if he goes in there with me right now like, walking like he’s…you know when Bambi comes out, he’s got them little Bambi legs? He’s got them sea legs. If Jon Jones comes back in the Octagon with those sea legs like he did against Ovince Saint Preux then I’m going to smash him. He might want to get his sea legs back under him. He’s not going to come in there with those baby legs.”
One thing that Cormier made clear was that he didn’t think White was bluffing on not booking Jones into a main event again after all the cancellations and problems.
“I do [believe Dana], so it’s going to have to be a really, really big fight to be the main event over us,” Cormier said. “So, if we’re fighting, then it’s going to have to be a really, really big fight to go above he and I.”
Last summer, before he popped for prohibited substances (the anti-estrogen agent clomiphene and letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor) that forced him from the bout with Cormier just days ahead of their rematch, Jones declared himself a changed man. He was coming back from having his title stripped from him after a hit-and-run in Albuquerque, in which he received probation and community service.
Because of his latest suspension, the “changed man” narrative feels to many like fool’s gold, including Cormier.
“First and foremost, he will never change completely,” he said. “Because he has never had to take full responsibility for what he’s done. He’s saying he didn’t get the maximum penalty for what he’s done, that’s not true. That is 100 percent not true. He got the max that USADA could give him for what he did, and we all know it. That’s what I don’t understand about people. You know, how do you turn and look the opposite direction when the truth is literally staring at you right in the face?
“It’s very simple — he got the max penalty. Don’t lie. And I didn’t even hear his press conference. So he was up there trying to do some spin and trying to be a politician, and no, he may not change. You know who he is. He was on Joe [Rogan]’s show and they asked him about the drugs, the pills, and he made the joke kind of, hey, he did the classic look over here at my left hand while I do something with my right hand type of scenario. If he did that, he’s just showing you the same traits that he had before.”
Jones still represents the only loss on Cormier’s resume, which for some fans discounts his title. Yet as time has gone on, and as Jones sits on the sidelines while Cormier stays busy in the fight world — both as a fighter and as a television analyst — Cormier says that at this point he doesn’t need the rematch with Jones, or Jones in his life at all.
He says he’s not so sure Jones is as secure.
“I’ve got to the point in my life where I’m like, this guy has no control over me,” he said. “This guy has no control over me anymore. Like, if he can’t never go back and fight me, that’s on him. I’ve got three UFC gold titles. I’ve got everything else. I’ve got my family, I’ve got my money, I’ve got everything — I’ve got my job for the future. I don’t need that guy.
“That guy needs to fight. That guy needs to come back and fight me. Because this thing doesn’t define who I am as a human being. I think Jon Jones, he needs to be Jon Jones the fighter, because there is nothing else. If you take away Jon Jones the fighter, what is there? Jon Jones the college drop out? Jon Jones the guy that actually ran over some chick in his vehicle? Who is he? He needs this to define him. You strip away everything else … there’s layers to who I am. So he needs this more than me. I don’t need him anymore.”