Jones’ long-anticipated return to the Octagon is just over a week away, as the former longtime UFC light heavyweight champion will square off with Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 232 in Las Vegas with the vacant title up for grabs.
But even the prospect of the rematch of one of the greatest fights in UFC history is starting to take a backseat to the latest flareup of the deepest-rooted rivalry in MMA history.
Jones took to Twitter on Wednesday night to challenge Cormier to a light heavyweight title fight after he presumably defeats Gustafsson, a response to comments Cormier made on the Jim Rome Podcast about having a “pinch of salt” worth of PED’s in his system.
On Thursday for a media teleconference promoting UFC 232, Jones explained that he had kept quiet during the bulk of his 15-month United States Anti-Doping Agency suspension as people took potshots at him, and now that he’s back in the game, he’s not going to let comments go unchallenged.
“The only reason I brought up the name of Daniel Cormier is that he brought up my name,” Jones said. “And I just figured, when I was in trouble, I just stepped back, all summer long, and let everybody talk as much sh*t as they want, and just talk blindly, knowing no facts. I watched everyboy that I beat in the past say ‘ohh, he was on steroids when he fought me the first time, that’s why he beat me.’ I just sat back and let everybody have at it.”
And while it’s true that several fighters took shots at Jones while he served his second USADA suspension, the case of Cormier brings out stronger emotions than the rest for obvious reasons. Cormier, the UFC heavyweight champion and one of only two fighters ever to hold two simultaneous weight class titles in the UFC. has his only two career blemishes courtesy Jones: A unanimous-decision loss at UFC 182 followed by a knockout loss at UFC 214, which was overturned to a no-contest when it was announced after the fight that Jones had failed a prefight drug test.
But Jones, who has never had a legitimate defeat in his career, says he’s done letting people discredit his accomplishments.
“I stayed quiet for almost a whole year,” Jones said. “And now I’m back, and I’m ready to reclaim my throne, and the sitting down and being quiet days are over. Daniel Cormier opened his mouth about me. He wants to sell to the people that steroids had something to do with my success. He would love it if, that’s the dialogue he wants to get out there, that’s the narrative he wants to get out there, and I want to nip it in the bud.”
Notably, Jones is working to push the narrative toward a third fight between he and Cormier at light heavyweight, rather than adding the new wrinkle of a Cormier heavyweight title defense should they meet again.
“I challenged Cormier to be my first title defense, and let’s see what he does. I don’t think he responded yet, and I think everybody knows he doesn’t want to fight me a third time,” Jones said.
“I’m not out to get Daniel Cormier,” Jones continued. “I’m here protecting himself the guy’s out there making comments about me and I’m just responding.”