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Luke Rockhold believes Jon Jones is trying to ‘manipulate’ Daniel Cormier back down to light heavyweight

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Daniel Cormier is no longer the UFC light heavyweight champion. That much is certain.

The reigning heavyweight champion previously relinquished his light heavyweight crown just days before Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson faced off at UFC 232 last month.

Jones, who holds two victories of Cormier at light heavyweight, would end up smashing Gustafsson into submission, reclaiming the now vacant championship in the process. Almost immediately after, Jones took to the mic to challenge Cormier to dropping back down for a third fight at 205 pounds.

“I know there’s a guy who’s been calling himself champ-champ,” said Jones during his post-fight speech. “I mean, what guy just gives up his belt because somebody else made it home? Daddy’s home, DC.”

But according to Cormier’s teammate, Luke Rockhold, Jones’ callout is simply masking his ulterior motive of avoiding his longtime rival in his natural weight class.

“Jones doesn’t want that fight,” Rockhold told Luke Thomas during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour. “Jones does not want to fight with DC at heavyweight. He doesn’t want to give him any advantage. He’s obviously doing what he can to build his confidence to fight at light heavyweight. We all know he’s tested dirty twice in a row now. Three times? I don’t know what it is, picograms, or whatever the hell they are. He’s obviously compensating trying to do something to build himself up.”

To date, the only setbacks of Cormier’s professional career both came at the hands of Jones when the two squared off for the light heavyweight title in 2015 and 2017. However, his third-round TKO loss at UFC 214 was later changed to a no-contest after Jones tested positive for a banned substance.

Since then, Cormier (22-1, 1 NC), also a former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, has made a habit of smashing through the top of the UFC heavyweight division. In July, he dethroned former champ Stipe Miocic with a violent first-round knockout UFC 226. He followed this up with another blistering second-round submission win over Derrick Lewis at UFC 230. For Rockhold, this Cormier on display in recent months is world’s apart from the Cormier who dehydrated his body to challenge Jones.

“DC at heavyweight is a much more dangerous fighter,” said Rockhold. “He’s looser, he’s moving people. I’ve seen him in the gym. Jones picked his words wisely on the mic [at UFC 232] trying to bait DC to come back down and manipulate him back down to light heavyweight. Jones walked around 240, DC walks around at 240. Fight where you are.”

Jones (23-1, 1 NC) is currently tied to title defense against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 in March.

Rockhold, a former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion, says he has no time for Jones calling out Cormier while also accepting what he perceives as a guaranteed victory against Smith. In fact, he just wanted to give Jones an ultimatum of either moving up to heavyweight or prepare for their own inevitable matchup.

“You’re the baddest man on the planet? Stop trying to pick off guys like Anthony Smith and stop talking about DC, the champ champ,” warned Rockhold. “Go up and fight the champ champ where’s he at and where he is the baddest man on the planet. You want to talk about it? Go up there and fight him. Otherwise, stay where you’re at and I’ll come to you.”