If Daniel Cormier defeats Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 next weekend, he will have two victories over one of the most feared knockout artists in the sport.
Still, the UFC light heavyweight champion believes his lasting legacy will be defined by how he fares against Jon Jones.
“I think beating ‘Rumble’ again will help, but ultimately it will come down to my rivalry with Jones, “Cormier said during a conference call on Thursday “Anthony has done a tremendous job as he’s come up in weight classes. But we’re talking about a rivalry with a guy that’s considered the greatest of all time. So wins over a guy like Jon Jones will probably be what solidifies where I sit when I retire from the sport.”
Cormier and Jones first met at UFC 182, when Jonny “Bones” was still the 205-pound king. Jones earned a five-round decision over Cormier that day, but his career hasn’t been the same since. Due to numerous well-documented issues, Jones has fought just once since UFC 182. He had a chance to reclaim light heavyweight gold against Cormier at UFC 200 last summer, but that bout was canceled when the Jackson-Wink MMA standout failed a pre-fight drug test.
Jones’ suspension won’t be finished until this July, but for now, Cormier isn’t allowing himself to think about his rival. “
“The focus is on Anthony, man. I can’t really worry about what’s next. Even though I believe that the path to victory [at UFC 210] is more in my favor, his one way of winning is very dangerous. He could actually knock me out in no time,” Cormier said. “I can’t waste my energy anymore on a guy that hasn’t been around and truly can’t be trusted to be eligible to fight.”
In his their first meeting at UFC 187, Cormier survived a scare in the opening stanza to defeat Johnson via rear-naked choke in the third round of their bout for the vacant 205-pound strap. While “Rumble” did floor Cormier in the first frame, the American Kickboxing Academy product dominated much of the contest with his wrestling. Still, betting odds for the rematch are practically even, a nod to Johnson’s tantalizing knockout power.
“The fact that the odds say we’re even… have no idea how anyone could think we were even,” Cormier said. “He had a moment. Outside of that moment in our first fight I pretty much just beat him up.”
Cormier had to face Johnson on short notice at UFC 187, as he replaced Jones when the New Mexico-based fighter was stripped of the title for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque. This time, Cormier expects to be even more dominant with a full camp behind him (Vegas odds).
“I’ve gotten better. iI feel like I’m a better fighter than the first time I fought him,” Cormier said. “I had a three-week training camp and still outworked him. What’s gonna happen now that I’ve been training for him for 12 weeks?”
While Cormier says Johnson only has one path to victory, the champion believes he has plenty of options.
“I can make it easy and [outwrestle him] or I can just beat him on the feet. I can do whatever I want. That’s the difference between him and I,” Cormier said.