Daniel Cormier says he is focused on the present. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
While Daniel Cormier is one week away from making his first light heavyweight title defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192, the shadow of suspended former champion Jon Jones continues to loom large.
Jones will enter a plea on Tuesday in Albuquerque, N.M., for a felony charge from his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run in April. That the first concrete details in months regarding the future of the ex-titlist will emerge the same week that Cormier steps into the Octagon is pure coincidence. Still, Cormier isn’t surprised that Jones’ long-term fate could be decided the same week his reign as light heavyweight king begins in earnest.
“For a long time Jones has been a guy that’s been tied to me very closely. I don’t think that ever changes,” Cormier said during a conference call to promote UFC 192. “With his hearing being so close it just adds fuel to the fire. It keeps him very relevant in the division even though he’s gone. It allows him to cast a shadow. [It’s] not ironic. If I think they had a choice in that it would be the ideal time to do it, but it just worked out that way. It gives them a little bit of a chance to know what’s gonna happen going forward after Alexander Gustafsson.”
Jones was arrested in April for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run. The fighter ran a red light and crashed a rental car into another vehicle driven by a pregnant women, who suffered a broken arm in the accident. Jones allegedly fled the scene before returning to grab a handful of cash and leaving again. After his arrest, Jones was suspended indefinitely and stripped of his title by the UFC. His case has been delayed for months as prosecutors worked to gather evidence against him.
In the meantime, Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson via third-round submission in the UFC 187 headliner on May 23 to capture the vacant 205-pound strap. While Cormier reveled in the triumph, it didn’t change the fact that the American Kickboxing Academy product was handily defeated by Jones at UFC 182 some five months earlier.
It is still unclear what type of sentence Jones will receive, but his legal team is reportedly positioning for a plea deal, and with the case moved from Albuquerque Metropolitan Court to district court, the Jackson-Wink product will not have to appear before a grand jury. All of the above has led to speculation that “Bones’” Octagon return could be imminent.
“I think every guy on this call... everybody wants Jon Jones back. It’s not just me. Obviously I I get asked about it more because I have the championship,” Cormier said. “I think every guy in the division should want him back to have the opportunity to compete against the guy. Everybody should want him back.
“I am rooting for him; I don’t know what happened. But in reality I do hope that there is some punishment for his actions. No one should be able to do those things and not be punished for those type of actions.”
Cormier spent nearly as much time on Friday’s call discussing Jones as he did Gustafsson, despite the fact that the Swede is his foe next Saturday in Houston. The light heavyweight champion made it clear that all the Jones talk is not his first choice. No matter what the headlines might say, Cormier’s life is not consumed with following his rival’s every move.
“The thing that’s really f---ed up is we live our day to day lives normal and we don’t worry about Jones. But you guys will ask us questions about this guy, and then the headline will make it sound as though I’m over here stewing about Jon Jones,” Cormier explained. “I could really give a s--t about Jon Jones. I care about beating Alexander Gustafsson and if Jones is the next guy, Jones is the next guy. If it’s [Rashad] Evans, if it’s [Ryan] Bader, it doesn’t matter who the next guy is. It’s hard to answer questions about this guy and allow him to actually just sit and continue almost reign over the division when he disqualified himself from competition because you guys continue to ask us questions about him.
“My day-to-day life does not involve worrying about Jon Jones. I worry about Alexander Gustafsson, defending my championship and then it’s just on to the next one.”