DALLAS — Jon Jones may still be serving his USADA suspension, but it didn’t take long for the rivalry between he and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier to reignite Friday at the UFC’s Summer Kickoff press conference.
Shortly after the UFC officially announced the rematch between the two light heavyweights for July 29 at UFC 214, Cormier and Jones hit the stage at the American Airlines Center amongst a bevy of big names, and Jones was blunt when asked whether the golden belt sitting in front of Cormier was the UFC’s legitimate 205-pound title.
“F*ck no,” Jones said. “He never beat me. He never beat me, so the belt that he has over there, it’s an imaginary belt. I messed up outside of the Octagon and I got that taken away from me, but the guy’s never beaten me. In order to be the champion, you have to beat the champion. He can fight all the other light heavyweights that he wants, he can beat every light heavyweight — until he beats me, that belt over there is a piece of sh*t.”
That opening salvo set the tone for the latest chapter of a rivalry that has now stretched across several years and five planned iterations of the fight, however things actually got heated before the festivities even began. Fellow attendee Kevin Lee posted a video on Twitter minutes before the start of the press conference showing an angry Cormier having thrown a water bottle at Jones and warning Jones not to mention Cormier’s children again.
Cormier went on to explain the situation.
“You know what happened behind the stage? He’s a b*tch,” Cormier said.
“He’s a b*tch and he said something about my kids, so I smacked him in the face with a water bottle. B*tch ass n*gga. You know what you are. He just said he’s back, right? But is he back? Doesn’t he have two more months of suspension? Is he back? Is he really back? Are you back junkie?”
Jones is currently serving the final months of his one-year suspension with USADA, which is set to expire on July 6 and is the result of a failed drug test infamously submitted by Jones ahead of UFC 200. That failed test was the reason the fourth attempt at the fight between Cormier and Jones failed to come to fruition last July, with the bout ultimately getting canceled just days out from the UFC’s bicentennial event.
And with Cormier and Jones still only having actually fought once — a UFC 182 clash in Jan. 2015 that Jones won via unanimous decision — that reality loomed large over the exchanges Friday between the two longtime rivals.
“So, I’m sitting here, and I see him. Like, I see him. He’s over there. But is he really going to be in Anaheim?” Cormier said. “Is this guy really going to go to the fight? Is this guy going to mess this up again by doing steroids or snorting cocaine or sandblasting prostitutes. What’s this guy going to do to mess this up this time?”
“Prostitutes? I beat you after a weekend of cocaine,” Jones shot back.
“And prostitutes,” replied Cormier.
“I had two great weekends,” answered Jones. “Back-to-back weekends. Cocaine one, your ass the next. It was great. That’s a month for the ages.”
Since that first fight, the paths taken by Cormier and Jones could not have been more different. Jones was stripped of his UFC belt and endured multiple suspensions for his actions outside of the cage, while Cormier took up the mantle as UFC light heavyweight champion and has racked up a quartet of wins over big names. The most recent of those wins played out last month at UFC 210, which Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson for a second time via rear-naked choke.
Nonetheless, Jones largely dismissed what Cormier has done in his stead.
“You know what? Daniel Cormier has shown me absolutely nothing since our last fight,” Jones said. “He has not progressed whatsoever. Anthony Johnson gave him that win.”
“At least I’ve been around to show something,” Cormier responded. “Where the f*ck has he been? Where’s this guy been? Where the f*ck has he been? Get out of here, judging someone from the sidelines. Go back and sit on the couch in Albuquerque. Where the f*ck have you been to judge someone?”
“That is true,” Jones said, before adding, “I really feel like Anthony Johnson gave him that win. I saw nothing out of Daniel. And the Anderson Silva fight was even worse out of Daniel. I’m excited to whoop his ass.”
Fittingly, in a room filled with much of the best talent lining the UFC’s upcoming schedule, Cormier and Jones closed out the show, as Jones took it upon himself to interrupt a reporter who addressed Cormier as the reigning light heavyweight champion.
“Are we still calling him the champ now that I’m back?” Jones asked. “He has the belt. He’s not the champion.”
“Jon, who are you to say?” Cormier replied. “Who are you to say who’s the champion? You’re some guy that doesn’t even fight. You’re damn near retired son. You’re barely coming back. How are you going to tell somebody something? You’re a retired man. Shut your ass up. Let the guy ask his question.”