Jon Jones: Daniel Cormier is just a pawn living in my era

Jon Jones has been talking about legacy a lot in the build-up to his rematch with light heavyweight rival Daniel Cormier.

Whether it’s his critiques of how UFC 200 will affect Cormier’s legacy or his stated desire to go down as one of the best fighters of all time, Jones has made it clear that he sees this bout against DC as a step toward greatness — albeit, a small one.

Jones revealed during a contentious sit down with Cormier and Joe Rogan on the latest episode of Counterpunch, that while he acknowledges that his UFC 200 opponent is part of his legacy, this fight doesn’t define him in any sense.

"My vision for myself is to go down as the greatest martial artist to ever live," Jones said. "And I know in order to do that I need to beat [Cormier], again, I need to beat Anthony Johnson and I need to get rid of all doubt from my Gustafsson fight — my rematch with Gustafsson. So, although I am very aware that it’s me and [Cormier] fighting right now, I am still looking at the bigger picture. Daniel Cormier is just a pawn in this whole game. My life doesn’t revolve around him like his revolves around me."

Jones and Cormier will forever be linked thanks to their rivalry, but the emergence of guys like Gustafsson and Johnson have made the light heavyweight division far more competitive than it was three years ago.

"I appreciate Daniel being here, Gustafsson being here, Anthony Johnson being here. Without these guys, there’s no competition for me. I look at them this way: I got three guys to work harder than. I got three guys to be more focused than, to love this sport more than, these are the only three guys that can stop me from going down as one of the greatest of all time."

Many would argue that Jones is already one of the best fighters the sport has ever seen. He won the light heavyweight title at just 23 years old to become the youngest champion in UFC history. Jones then proceeded to run through a murder’s row of exceptional fighters and former champions, including Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen.

More impressively, Jones earned stoppages in all those fights except against Evans, where he won a decision on the strength of a 105-45 advantage in significant strikes landed.

His next fight, a closely contested bout against Gustafsson, as well as his feud with DC, and the resurgence of "Rumble" has seemingly helped re-ignite the fire under Jones. And if he can handle business against three of the best fighters in the current light heavyweight era — starting with Cormier at UFC 200 — Jones’ place in history will be secure.

"DC is just a pawn in this story, man. When I was facing Rashad, it felt like it was everything, and looking back on it, he was just a pawn in this story. Same with DC, man. This isn’t his story — he’s living in my era right now. And I’m going to prove that."