A little over two weeks have passed since Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones collided in a rematch for the ages at UFC 214. In a fight with historical stakes for both sides, a grudge match between two of the greatest light heavyweights of all-time, Jones defeated Cormier via brutal third-round knockout to recapture the UFC light heavyweight title and deliver a thunderous reminder of his greatness.
In his first public comments since the loss, other than a statement posted on social media the Sunday after UFC 214, Cormier broke his silence Monday on The MMA Hour. The two-time Olympian admitted that he was “still pretty bummed out” about how things played out against Jones, but he was ready to put the worst behind him.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Cormier said Monday on The MMA Hour. “You’ve got to remember, I’m a guy who wants to be the best. I train hard, I work hard and I feel like I was ready to go. I feel like I was prepared, and I was very disappointed in the result of the fight. But as I’ve looked back on it, I was upset, but I think a lot of the sadness came from — I feel like my coaches, I felt like they had done such a tremendous job of preparing me for this particular event, and for me to not be able to get the job done, that’s where I think a lot of my sadness came from.
“Obviously I was disappointed with the fight, but I felt bad for the people closest to me, because I felt like they had invested so much and had done so much to prepare me, and I was ready to go.”
Cormier said he has not yet watched the fight, as he isn’t sure if he is emotionally ready to see what happened.
He admitted he is still missing about 10 minutes of his life from that night, his memories faltering from the time before the knockout up until the aftermath in the bowels of Anaheim’s Honda Center, likely the result of a bad concussion. So at this point, Cormier’s impressions of July 29 are largely an amalgamation of secondhand information he’s heard from his friends and coaches, all of whom told “DC” that the rematch against Jones was competitive up until the moment it wasn’t.
Cormier said he has since received an outpouring of love and support from friends, fans, his fellow fighters, and even a few unexpected sources like NBA legend Charles Barkley, who Cormier says texted him out of the blue with words of encouragement. And Cormier said he could not be more thankful for everyone who has taken time out of their day to write him.
“It’s meant a ton,” Cormier said. “Every day I get hundreds of messages of people saying, ‘Hey, we miss you. DC, come back. What’s going on? Are you okay?’ And I think what matters the most is not the people saying, ‘Come back and fight, we want to see you fight again.’ It’s the people who just genuinely seem to be concerned for your well-being. ‘How are you? Are you okay? How are you doing? I hope you’re fine, and we’re worried about you.’
“It’s stuff like that which matters, that there are a lot people in this game that truly do care, and you don’t necessarily anticipate that, especially after these last couple years, the way that it’s been. But I think people show their true selves when they already know someone is down and they want to try to help you rebuild yourself. It’s a great feeling.”
Cormier, 38, isn’t ready to give up either.
The former UFC champion said he will likely sit out for the rest of 2017 to heal and spend time with his family, but then he expects to get right back into the swing of things. And once he does, he will return with the goal of proving himself worthy of a third shot at Jones.
“Why would I stop fighting?” Cormier said. “I feel like I still love the competition more than anything. That’s really what’s driving me. When I don’t have competition, I’m not in something like that, I’m miserable, man. I love to compete. I love to be in the environment. Not only am I going to fight again, but I do believe that Jon Jones and I will fight again. So, of course I have a desire to fight, and I believe that him and I will compete again before it’s all said and done.
“I don’t know exactly what path leads back to a fight with Jones, but I anticipate he’ll be the champion,” Cormier added, “and I don’t believe anyone else in this division can compete with me. So, after I win enough fights, I believe that we’ll fight again. Also, we make money together, and when you make money together, the UFC is usually pretty open to making those matches.”
Cormier said the UFC has already reached out to him with several options for his next step. One of the options on the table is a return to the heavyweight division — a division where Cormier dominated in Strikeforce and the UFC to the tune of an undefeated 13-0 record, highlighted by wins over Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett, and Antonio Silva.
Cormier said a lot has changed with his body since he first made his light heavyweight drop in 2014, but he is considering all of his options.
“I really shrunk myself from heavyweight,” Cormier said. “I used to have big old traps and I was bigger guy when I fought at heavyweight, but I’d entertain anything. The UFC values me and honestly, man, they’ve already reached out with some ideas about me fighting, and I was like, ‘well, I need time,’ but there are options at heavyweight and options at 205. Obviously the Jimi Manuwa fight is a fight that could happen. Volkan Oezdemir has done fantastic for himself, a guy that’s a cool guy, but if the easiest path back to fighting the fights that I want is to go through somebody like that, then I’ll do it. So it’s a matter of just what I decide to do.
“At this point, I’ve kinda gotten to a point in my career where the UFC, they really are very open to a lot of my suggestions. This last two-and-a-half years since I fought Jones the first time through now, I’ve headlined cards, there were cards I was supposed to headline or had marquee fights on, I’ve sold millions and millions of pay-per-views, and with that comes some respect within the organization.”
Cormier admitted that ultimately the Jones losses will likely stick with him forever, however he is ready to get climb back aboard the saddle and continue on with his career. He expects to host UFC Tonight this week and has a few UFC color commentary gigs lined up, so he plans to be back to work soon.
And despite how mean-spirited some of the imagery and internet memes to come out of UFC 214 have been, Cormier reconciled with himself that that’s just part of the game, a nasty side effect he always knew was a possibility if he lost.
“I’ve always said that I want people to think that when I fought, I gave them 110 percent, so I think they’ll see that,” Cormier said. “I think they will respect my effort, they will respect my hard work. I’ve always been open and honest and genuine. It’s just, in this situation they saw me at my lowest professionally. I’ll let it happen. This is not new. I’ve done this, I’ve cried every time I’ve lost wrestling matches, I’ve cried every time I lost in pretty much anything. It’s just, when I’m committed to something, it means so much that when it doesn’t work out, the emotions do come out.
“I would expect [people] to say, ‘You know what, man, this guy wears his heart on his sleeve.’ But the silver lining is — I mean, it’s great that people are supporting me, but the silver lining does not erase the bottom line. The bottom line is that I didn’t get the job done, and that’s what sticks with me, so those are the things that I have to go back and work on, not really from a fighting standpoint, but just from a ‘me kinda living my life’ standpoint. At the end of the day, I have to accept that I did not get the job done, and I’m going to have to do something very special to get the opportunity to do it again, and I’m going to. I am honestly going to work to find a way to get myself locked back into the Octagon with that man. I have to.”