When Daniel Cormier first began to hear news of Jon Jones’ latest arrest this week on felony hit-and-run charges, he was not happy at all. Despite having one of the most heated rivalries in UFC history with Jones, Cormier told UFC Tonight‘s Michael Bisping and Kenny Florian Tuesday that he wasn’t interested in piling onto the embattled stripped former champion.
"Not good," Cormier said of his initial reaction to news of Jones’ latest scandal.
"You don’t kick a guy when he’s down. It was obviously disappointing. All the stuff Jon gets into is disappointing. He can’t seem to get out of his own way."
After the gravity of Jones’ latest legal situation gradually became more apparent, however, Cormier did admit that he began to become hopeful that Jones would be out of his originally scheduled May 23 UFC 187 headline title bout against Anthony Johnson, and that Cormier could perhaps replace Jones.
Cormier took Jones the distance at UFC 182 before losing a decision, after all, and he made an obvious choice for a possible replacement for Jones should the occasion arise. "Once it started to become so serious," Cormier said, "I guess I kind of became hopeful" that he’d get to fill in for Jones.
Cormier said he had been trying to keep himself composed and contained. Once he got the offer, he was in, of course, and looked towards a brand new and quite dangerous opponent.
"It is a tough fight," he said of fighting "Rumble."
"’Rumble’ Johnson is a fantastic fighter. He has tremendous power and has a confidence about himself, now."
Cormier has his own confidence that, despite Johnson’s current scary nine-fight win streak, he is an imperfect fighter who the Olympian seems to believe simply isn’t as good or mentally strong as him. "At the end of the day, Anthony Johnson is who he is," Cormier explained.
"At his core he is a guy that got submitted by [welterweight] Josh Koscheck, a guy that tapped out before [middleweight] Vitor Belfort had a choke on him. At the core, he is who he is. I just have to find that."
Cormier understands that, since Jones did not lose his title in the cage, some may not consider the winner of DC vs. Johnson as the "true" light heavyweight champion. DC understands that sentiment but ultimately disagrees with it.
"I’m a realist," he said.
"Jon was the champion. He beat himself. Nobody beat him. I didn’t get the job done Jan. 3. It is a tough hill for me to climb. It will not be easy. Jon did this to himself; the belt is not his anymore. So, this is the real championship."
Cormier had similar words of advice for his rival Jones as he did when it was revealed that "Bones" tested positive for cocaine weeks before their January 2015 bout, but with one new addition. "Just get it together. Get it together, man," he told Jones.
"I’ll be waiting on the other side with my championship and he can actually challenge me for it."