Ranked as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is headed for one of the biggest contests of his decorated fighting career when he meets heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in the main event of July’s UFC 226 from Las Vegas, Nevada.
If he is able to defeat the surging Ohio-born firefighter, Cormier will join Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Randy Couture, and Conor McGregor on the short list of UFC combatants who have won gold in two weight classes, a feat that would absolutely put Cormier amongst the greatest MMA fighters in the sport’s history.
Yet it’s his two losses to the man that many still feel is the greatest MMA fighter of all-time – troubled former champion Jon Jones – that he just can’t shake.
Regardless of his accomplishments inside the octagon most will remember ‘Bones’ knocking out Cormier at UFC 214 and outlasting him by decision at UFC 182 – both fights after which he was quickly embroiled in serious drug-related trouble – before they bring up ‘DC’s’ dominant second-round stoppage of formerly surging contender Volkan Oezdemir at January’s UFC 220.
It’s even lead to some so-called ‘fans’ labeling Cormier a ‘paper champion,’ something that’s a beyond laughable proposition considering he is also among the best competitors in UFC history. Jones’ continued and concerning inability to compete consistently is on him, and there’s little doubt that if he were able to stay clean and sober rather than failing multiple drug tests for a litany of both recreational and performance-enhancing drugs, he’d be the one fighting Miocic in the massive super fight this summer.
He’s not, and Cormier has the fight because of Jones’ ineptitude outside the cage, regardless of the fingers he’s pointing elsewhere. But because of that dynamic in play, Cormier will have to answer endless questions about Jones leading up to UFC 226, and those could be questions he doesn’t exactly have the answer for.
Speaking up on his hated rival with whom he’s forever linked in time in a recent interview with Bloody Elbow’s Stephie Haynes, Cormier said he still doesn’t know what Jones was thinking by allegedly taking steroids before their UFC 214 showdown last year because he doesn’t believe the transcendent talent needs them:
“I don’t know. I don’t know what he was doing. The only thing I can base an opinion on is from what came out publicly. I don’t think for a second that Jon Jones needed any type of enhancements to compete. I think he’s ultra-talented, he’s a fantastic fighter, he’s very smart in there, and I think he can do whatever he wants, but he chose to do it the wrong way.
“I can’t change that. All I can really worry about is what I can take care of.”
Regardless of the vagueness surrounding Jones’ questionable test failure the day of the UFC 214 weigh-ins after he had passed every previous test leading up to the event, Cormier understandably would like to avenge his only two MMA defeats.
So even though he’s competing for the heavyweight title this summer, he admits he’d still love to run it back with “Bones” and finally defeat his only comparable opponent at light heavyweight:
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“If a chance to compete against him arises, then I’ll take it and hopefully, finally vindicate those losses. That’s the only guy that’s ever beat me, and if I can get those back, I’ll be in business.”