As he seeks the third straight defense of his title — and 14th consecutive victory in championship bouts — Jones has started to think about the longevity he’ll have in the sport where he became champion at 23.
While time and age are almost always the greatest enemy to any athlete, Jones feels like he’s just now entering the prime of his career with plenty of road left to travel before he calls it a career.
In fact, Jones sees Cormier as a perfect example of a fighter who has managed to accomplish great feats in this sport, including his recent reign as a two-division UFC champion, with his 41st birthday fast approaching in March.
“My goal is just to be here for an extremely long time,” Jones explained on Thursday at the UFC 247 media day. “A very long time. I want to be here for the whole next decade and I want to be the champion for this next decade. I look at Daniel Cormier as an inspiration.
“For him to be champion at 40 years old, dominating guys much younger than him. He lets me know if I do the right things and really take care of myself, there’s no reason why we can’t keep up with this next generation of fighters, this next decade of fighters. That’s the goal. Thank you for that motivation, Daniel Cormier.”
That’s probably not something anybody would have expected Jones to say but it appears he’s put at least part of his grudge against Cormier away to pay homage to the career he’s built after having his first fight when he was 30 years old.
Since then, Cormier has gone onto put together a resume that has defined him as one of the top mixed martial artists of all time. Even Jones can’t help but tip his cap to Cormier’s accomplishments.
Jones won’t turn 33 until July and judging by his latest comments, he’s got a lot of time left in his career as he seeks to dominate for many years to come.