No. 4-ranked UFC light heavyweight Daniel Cormier has been involved in a much-publicized beef with divisional champion Jon Jones for quite some time now.

It’s a conflict that won’t get fully resolved until Cormier gets a long-awaited shot at Jones’ belt, a title that “DC” cut down to 205 pounds for in order to avoid facing his good friend and training partner, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

Cormier may indeed earn that shot with a victory over MMA legend Dan Henderson in the co-main event of next Saturday’s (May 24, 2014) UFC 173 from Las Vegas, Nevada. With a shot at gold tantalizingly close for the undefeated former Olympic wrestler, Cormier is getting the hype started early for his potential match-up with Jones.

The champ is seemingly gaining haters left and right due to his supposed arrogant attitude, a sentiment that the fans seem to be split down the middle on. Cormier spoke up to MMA Junkie to voice his opinion that the perception could be due to the dominant champion’s young age:

“I think a lot of stuff just shows his age. He’s a younger guy, and whether or not people want to believe it, he’s younger, and all this takes some adjusting. He’s not the oldest guy, and he’s dealing with fame at a level that most people can’t comprehend.”

That’s a good point of view from Cormier, who acknowledges that the champ was thrust into a massive spotlight at a very young age and is still struggling to fully deal with the limelight. And while the ire for Jones seems to grow with each record-breaking title defense, fans are still tuning in, even if it’s to see him lose.

Cormier believes that Jones should embrace this dynamic and go full heel similar to hated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, who makes millions upon millions playing that role to perfection:

“If I was Jon Jones, being that people seem to want to dislike him, I would go 100 percent Floyd Mayweather Jr. He wins all the time, and people dislike him, but they always tune in to see him. People want to believe Jon’s not being 100 percent real with us. They’re thinking that we’re seeing kind of an act, so give them you. If they believe you’re a complete ass, then just be an ass.”

They’ll watch to hope that you lose, but at the end of the day, you’ll still be winning, because Floyd Mayweather makes $40 million every time he fights. At the end of the day, that is winning.”

It’s tough to argue with success like that, but Jones most likely won’t be in the general vicinity of any $40 million paydays anytime soon. Plus he also has the added pressure of being the face of the UFC now that longtime champions Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre are absent from the sport.

Mayweather doesn’t seem to care what his fans or haters think about him, but Jones’ team does notice what the fans think of him. This became clear when famed coach Greg Jackson told him to “go get some fans” after he choked out Lyoto Machida at UFC 140.

But Cormier thinks Jones should go the other way and embrace the hate in order to play a role.

That just might work, but many are quick to pre-judge and hate Jones anyway. Is it time for him to embrace the role of the bad guy, or can he turn it around and become a hero in the public’s eyes?

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