Jon Jones doesn’t know what it’s like to lose.
Certainly not in the Octagon, where he’s won 24 times and only lost via a disqualification to Matt Hamill early in his career. Outside of that blemish, “Bones” has defeated every man to step into the cage with him and there are only two who have had the opportunity to challenge him twice, Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson.
It’s Cormier whose career is inextricably tied with Jones’s given that they have feuded for years and are widely considered to be the two greatest light heavyweights in MMA history as well as on the short list of the best to ever compete in the sport pound-for-pound. Jones has twice beaten Cormier, once via five-round unanimous decision at UFC 182 and again at UFC 214.
The second win was more definitive than the first as Jones knocked Cormier out with a head kick in the third round, but the result was later overturned to a no contest when Jones tested positive for a banned substance. Jones would later receive a 15-month suspension from the USADA for the failed test.
In Jones’s absence, Cormier continued his reign as the UFC light heavyweight champion and went on to take the heavyweight crown from Stipe Miocic. Cormier and Miocic are set to rematch one another at UFC 241 in August, but that matchup only became official after a long rumored bout with WWE superstar Brock Lesnar failed to materialize. A third bout with Jones at 205 pounds had also been mentioned by both fighters, but Jones believes there is zero chance that Cormier would risk having to cut weight only to potentially lose to Jones again.
“He says it, but there’s no way he’s coming back to light heavyweight,” Jones said in an interview with Dan Hardy for BT Sport. “To commit your life to lose that type of weight and to come up short again would be so devastating. It would take an incredible amount of courage to attempt it and to come up short would just be so devastating. I doubt he would put himself through that for the third time.”
Asked if Cormier losing another light heavyweight championship bout to Jones would be more devastating than Jones making the move up to heavyweight and taking that belt, Jones admitted that the latter scenario would be worse for his rival, though he pointed out that Cormier would also have certain advantages under those circumstances.
“Not as devastating as that, no,” Jones said. “But me coming up short, I’m a realist. Daniel Cormier is a special athlete and everyone can be beat. I think my greatest chance of losing would be to a guy like Daniel Cormier, with giving him a power and strength advantage over me, it just doesn’t make sense.
“Right now I make light heavyweight very easily and it just wouldn’t make no sense to fight a guy who I think technically [is] on your level, and to give him a size advantage, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. I’m sure my fans don’t like to hear me talk like that, but that’s just me being a realist and being respectful to Daniel’s abilities.”
Jones has his own title defense at UFC 239 against Thiago Santos to worry about, but considering that he has teased moving up to heavyweight on several occasions, it’s possible that he’ll have a vested interest in the Cormier-Miocic rematch. Should Miocic win, he and Jones could follow through on a matchup that they’ve been amenable too in the past.
In the event of a Cormier win, which Jones is predicting, he still doesn’t see a scenario where he and Cormier fight a third time.
“I think Stipe will put up a better fight, but I do think DC will win again,” Jones said. “DC’s an extraordinary athlete. His flexibility and his speed for the way he’s built doesn’t really make sense. Even his endurance, the way he’s built, he’s a special athlete. I don’t think most guys would beat DC. I think the way you beat DC is just to catch him with a knockout shot, which Stipe has the power to do. The question is can he land it?
“I think DC’s smart and he’s going to use his wrestling and wit to find a way to win again. And then he’ll retire or fight at heavyweight again. He’s definitely never coming back to light heavyweight.”
The full episode of Dan Hardy’s Open Mat featuring the Jones interview will be available on the BT Sport YouTube channel on Tuesday evening.