clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Daniel Cormier reconciles he’ll have to ‘show people what the belt means’ if Jon Jones is once again stripped

New, comments

For Daniel Cormier, the future is right now uncertain.

At 38 years old, Cormier found himself unexpectedly thrust back into the spotlight last week when it was discovered that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol in a pre-fight drug screening the day before UFC 214. Jones defeated Cormier via vicious third-round knockout at UFC 214, however that result is now in jeopardy, likely to be overturned and Jones stripped of his belt unless “Bones” is somehow able to prove his innocence with USADA.

It’s a familiar feeling for Cormier. His saga with Jones has stretched across four years and has repeatedly been hamstrung by Jones’ many indiscretions. But while “DC” said that he wants to give Jones his due process as Team Jones attempts to prove that a tainted supplement was the cause of the testing failure, Cormier also acknowledged that as an athlete who himself has been in the USADA testing pool for nearly a decade of his life, the reality of the situation appears to be rather bleak.

And it may spell the end of an all-time rivalry that deserved a more dignified final chapter.

“The sad thing is, man, I would actually fight him again. I just don’t know that there will be time,” Cormier said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Because at the end of this process, if there is a suspension, I will have run out of time, because I’ve always said that I won’t be fighting at 40, and I’ve done so much better than I ever could’ve envisioned when I started this career. If this is true, as it probably is — because USADA is a very upstanding organization, they would not have said anything if they just made a mistake — then I will probably run out of time, and the last time we fought will be the last time we fought. That’s the truth.”

Cormier and Jones have fought twice in the past, with Jones first winning a back-and-forth decision in Jan. 2015, then knocking out Cormier in the rematch at UFC 214. The second result was supposed to mark the end of Cormier’s two-year reign as light heavyweight champion, however that UFC title is now hanging in limbo. If Jones is found guilty, he faces a suspension that could stretch upwards of four years, and Cormier would in turn be crowned champion once more.

It would be a bizarre turn of events for Cormier, whose first title reign began in 2015 after Jones was stripped of the UFC title and suspended for his role in a felony hit-and-run accident that left one pregnant victim injured. Cormier admitted Monday that it’s a dilemma that has him conflicted, despite everything that has happened post-UFC 214 being through no fault of his own. But it’s also a decision that Cormier knows he ultimately would have to reconcile, even if it wasn’t how he hoped to retain his strap.

“The crazy thing was that, the first time (in 2015), I got a lot of, ‘you were given the belt,’ when in reality I won the belt by fighting Anthony (Johnson),” Cormier said. “This time, I think I would be given the belt because of what happened. As a competitor, I know that we fought. But if he was not fighting cleanly, then how it that fair to me?

“So if — and I keep saying ‘if’ because again, Jon is entitled to due process — if it is proven that he was dirty, then we would not have fought anyway, and I would still have my title regardless. So yeah, I will take the belt, I will be a proud champion, just as I was before, because I will show people what the belt means. Now, if it comes back that it’s not dirty, then I go back to work to get a belt so that I can find a way to fight him again for a title.”

Cormier already planned to sit out the remainder of 2017 to allow himself to heal, both mentally and physically, after a grueling past few years. But now that layoff could be even longer, as Cormier’s career is effectively paralyzed until Jones’ case is resolved and the UFC decides what to do with the 205-pound title.

And so, once again, Cormier finds his career at the mercy of his foremost rival — a man who has lorded over Cormier’s livelihood for better or worse over the past four years, and a man who may have finally run out of second chances.

“I think if anything, this whole deal with Jon probably gives me more time (on the shelf), because I’m going to have to wait to see what happens with him and the championship and everything,” Cormier said. “When that’s all finalized, then I can start to plan going forward. I had the option to fight this year and turned it down. Imagine if I would’ve taken a fight and then been stuck in this thing in the middle of the fight camp? That’s not the best situation to be training for something under, so I’m just going to wait.

“I’ve got a lot of color commentary duties coming up and UFC Tonight obviously is my main job, so I’ve got some things coming up, and I’m going to enjoy my family, man. I mean, I fought twice this year, had three training camps last year. I only fought once but I had three training camps last year. So I’m going to enjoy my family. I’m going to go to Pittsburgh, I’m going to go watch (AKA teammate) Luke (Rockhold) beat David Branch (at UFC Fight Night 116) ... and then I’m just going to get back in the gym and start helping my teammates, and see how this thing plays out. That’s really all we can do, is wait and see.”