Just hours after Cormier relinquished his UFC light heavyweight title in advance of Jones’ return against Alexander Gustafsson on Dec. 29 at UFC 232, Jones was asked about a potential trilogy match against Cormier on the UFC 232 weigh-in show on FOX Sports 1. And “Bones” made it clear that the ball is in Cormier’s court to move back down in weight.
“It’s up to Daniel Cormier to challenge me to get his belt back,” Jones said Friday. “I heard that he ended up relinquishing his belt, and I think that’s a good look. But at the end of the day, I know most people know that he never was the champion. Hats off to him for being the heavyweight champion of the world, but I’ve been the light heavyweight champion since 2011. That’s just facts. That’s just facts. The belt was given to him. He has not beaten me. So, he can cancel all doubts by challenging me and really being a legit champ champ.”
Cormier captured the UFC heavyweight title in July with a first-round knockout victory over Stipe Miocic after moving up in weight from 205 pounds. Just three months later, at UFC 230, he made history once again as the first simultaneous two-division UFC champion to defend a belt with an effortless submission victory over Derrick Lewis on short notice. In total, Cormier is an undefeated 15-0 throughout his career in the heavyweight division.
Jones has long entertained the idea of eventually moving up to heavyweight. His longtime striking coach, Brandon Gibson, recently told MMA Fighting that he believes “the day will come” when Jones moves up to the sport’s biggest weight class. Jones has also repeatedly expressed interest in a heavyweight fight against former UFC champion Brock Lesnar.
But when the comes to Cormier, the notion of Jones moving up to heavyweight to face off against his foremost rival for a third time appears to be a non-starter.
“Nah, no,” Jones said matter-of-factly when asked about the potential matchup. “He looks good at heavyweight. He’s designed to be a heavyweight. He’s comfortable there. He naturally goes to heavyweight between every fight. That is his spot, and like I said, he makes a great heavyweight champion. Even before fighting me, he was on a tear at heavyweight. That’s his zone. I have no reason to challenge him at heavyweight, because for me it’s not personal.
“When he comes down to light heavyweight, it’ll be personal again. And he can have what he has, I’ll have what I have, and that’s being the most dominant light heavyweight champion, the only light heavyweight champion since 2011.”
Jones is currently slated to rematch Gustafsson on Saturday at The Forum in Los Angeles, California. UFC 232 was originally set to take place in Las Vegas, however the UFC moved the event from Nevada to California less than a week out from fight night after a trio of adverse findings in Jones’ drug tests since August led the Nevada Athletic Commission to refuse to license Jones without first having a hearing to discuss the matter.
Nonetheless, Jones is undeterred and focused only on getting his light heavyweight belt back against Gustafsson.
“I’m not really worried about all the drug testing stuff,” Jones said. “I’m really excited to have USADA and VADA drug testing me, and at the end of the day, you can ignore facts if you want, but I feel like I will be vindicated at the end of this thing. I really do. I’ve taken a polygraph test and I said that I’ve never intentionally cheated at this sport. I will stand by that. I passed that polygraph test, I believe through time we’ll all get our heads around what this is exactly.”