Daniel Cormier is expecting a different, slightly diminished version of the Jon Jones he lost to more than two years ago when the light heavyweights square off in their rematch at UFC 214.
After watching Jones take a five-round verdict over Ovince St. Preux at UFC 197, the reigning 205-pound champ believes “Bones” took measures to improve his performance heading into their scheduled rematch at UFC 200. However, Jones tested positive for the banned estrogen blockers clomiphene and letrozole during an out-of-competition drug screen administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. While Jones’ attorney would later argue that the positive test resulted from taking a sexual enhancement pill, the fighter was still handed a one-year suspension which ends on July 6.
With that in mind, Cormier expects Jones to be fighting on a level playing field on July 29, even if he wasn’t earlier in his career.
“I think he has to this time, with USADA and everything. Alexander Gustafsson now is saying he believes Jon was enhanced throughout his career. Before we had no sanctioning body like USADA. I do believe we will see a different fighter in Anaheim,” Cormier said on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd. “This time he has to be clean. Otherwise he’ll be caught. And that’s why he got caught last time. I think he fought Ovince St. Preux clean and didn’t like the way he felt and tried to do something again dirty and got caught at UFC 200.”
Before his suspension and troubles outside the cage, Jones was regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today. The Jackson-Wink MMA standout has rolled to a 22-1 career mark, and the one loss on his ledger – a disqualification defeat to Matt Hamill in December 2009 – isn’t viewed as a true setback because Jones was well on his way to winning that fight before it was halted. During a dominant title reign, Jones has used his reach, creativity and wrestling to dispatch a who’s who of the light heavyweight division. That includes Cormier, whom he outwrestled and outstruck at UFC 182.
“I think he will still be very tough because he has a ton of skills. He’s got a lot of physical advantages that a lot of us don’t have,” Cormier said. “I think what you will see is he will be a little more tentative. He may not be able to be as aggressive as he normally is in some places. What surprised me most about our first fight was that he was able to keep the pace I put on him and maintain over the fourth and fifth round. What you’ll see is a guy like in the beginning of his career where he would actually start to tire.
“You watch me do that against most guys and they will tire before I do. Jon was able to keep the pace and I think that’s where you will see the difference.”
Cormier has twice bested Anthony Johnson, perhaps the most feared striker in the division and Gustafsson, in 205-pound title bouts since Jones was stripped of the belt. Although he lost to Jones once, Cormier is confident of his advantages against the New York native.
“I’m a better boxer than Jon Jones by far. Wrestling. He actually scored more takedowns last fight. Just in terms of pure wrestling, I’m a better wrestler,” Cormier said. “He knows I will bring the fight. He knows I continue to press forward and try to impose my will on him.”
Still, Cormier knows that without a victory over Jones, he will never receive the recognition he should for his myriad achievements in the sport.
“This one means everything. This is legacy,” Cormier said. “People talk about the old guys, the Randy Coutures, the Tito Ortizes and those guys, but you’re watching the two best light heavyweights of all time in me and Jon Jones.”
And should Cormier defeat Jones on a more level playing field at UFC 214, “DC” will still have some unfinished business with his rival.
“Him and I have two more fights,” Cormier said. “We have me beating him in Anaheim and me beating him next time.”