Daniel Cormier knows his legacy will always hinge on beating Jon Jones
Daniel Cormier doesn’t get the respect he deserves.
The former two-time Olympian has accomplished miraculous things since transitioning to the sport of mixed martial arts, especially considering he didn’t even begin that move until he was nearly 30 years of age.
Cormier is a former Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion, who may have gone on to hold the belt in the UFC if not for his decision to move down a division to avoid a clash with his close friend and teammate Cain Velasquez.
Most recently, Cormier has claimed the UFC light heavyweight title, defended it one time and even picked up a victory over Anderson Silva — arguably the greatest fighter of all time — after accepting the matchup on two days notice.
Still, for all Cormier has accomplished the one blemish on his record is a unanimous decision loss to Jon Jones that will continue to haunt him until he finally has the chance to exorcise that demon.
Cormier was supposed to get his chance last July but Jones was pulled off UFC 200 just days before the event after he tested positive for a banned substance. Jones will be eligible to return this July but first Cormier has to get past knockout artist Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 210 in Buffalo this Saturday night.
Cormier has already beaten Johnson once before and he knows doing it again will be another huge addition to his resume, but as much as he respects the No. 1 ranked light heavyweight contender, the current champion knows all roads will eventually lead back to questions about Jon Jones.
“I think beating ‘Rumble’ again, it’ll help [my legacy], but ultimately it will come down to my rivalry with Jones,” Cormier told FOX Sports. “Anthony has done a tremendous job as he’s come up the weight classes but, we’re talking about a rivalry with a guy that many consider the greatest fighter of all time. So wins over a guy like Jon Jones is what’s going to really, probably be the one thing that solidifies where I’m trying to sit whenever I retire from the sport.
“At the end of the day I do have a tough challenge on my hands next week. Beating Anthony again, it’ll just be closing the chapter. I mean people really do believe in him and they really do love the knockout, so he gets a reputation for being the scariest guy. So beating someone like that twice really should cement who I am and everything else I’ve done, but ultimately I think it will depend on the rivalry with Jones.”
Cormier was absolutely gutted last year when Jones was pulled out of their fight just days before they were supposed to face off at the historic UFC 200 card in Las Vegas.
In the aftermath of Jones’ testing positive for a banned substance, Cormier waffled on whether or not he ever wanted to go through that situation again because of the emotional turmoil he faces every time he’s scheduled to fight the only man who has been his superior since moving to MMA.
There’s a shared disdain between Cormier and Jones and the bitter feelings always seem to bring out the worst in each of them, so it’s not an easy journey to take for either fighter. For Cormier, he was almost ready to put Jones behind him once and for all when he was yanked from UFC 200, but time has given him perspective to know that the only way he can finish his career is by facing his greatest foe a second time.
“Yes, I will be ready to address the situation. For a while, I felt so burned that I was like I don’t want to fight him. Honestly, before I knew that his suspension was going to carry through [the] next year, I spoke to people about what should happen next before the ‘Rumble’ fight came about. It was [expletive] Jon Jones, I’m not dealing with him again,” Cormier explained.
“I’ve dealt with that. I’ve resolved those issues. I’ll give it another shot. I want to compete against that guy. I want to fight him. He beat me the first time and that means something to me. Yes, I will be ready to address that situation once again.”
Cormier can’t just face Jones one time either considering he’s already down to him on their career scorecards.
So even with a hypothetical victory over Jones in a rematch, Cormier knows he’ll have to do it again if he truly wants to get rid of the weight that’s been residing on his shoulders ever since he fell to him more than two years ago.
“That is what I have to do and once I do that, I’ve done everything,” Cormier said. “I’ve won Strikeforce championships, I beat some of the best fighters in the world, won the UFC title and defended the UFC title. Beat a guy people consider the greatest fighter of all time, regardless of everything. I’d be done. I don’t know what more I could actually do in a sport. I’m not saying I’d retire, I’m just saying if you put a checklist of what you need to in a sport, I would have accomplished everything.
“It’s exactly what I want. I’ve addressed my reservations and I’m ready to press forward. I’m ready to see what happens now.”