Daniel Cormier couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret as he watched the UFC 197 main event from cageside as a guest analyst.
While Jon Jones was successful in his bid to claim interim light heavyweight gold against Ovince St. Preux at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, he wasn’t nearly as dominant as expected. Instead, it took the Jackson-Wink representative a full five rounds to dispatch OSP.
Even though it was a clear-cut unanimous decision for Jones, it did little to strike fear into Cormier, who claimed the vacant 205-pound crown during his rival’s indefinite suspension from the UFC.
“He got the job done. A lot of times most guys don’t have their best performance, they lose. They don’t get it done. That shows just how special Jon is,” Cormier said in an interview on Fox Sports 1. “That being said, I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get to compete tonight because I do believe if he showed up in the form he did tonight, if this is the new Jon Jones, there is no way that he can beat me.”
Jones defeated Cormier via unanimous decision in their first meeting at UFC 182 in January 2015. After that, personal problems plagued the New York native. An arrest for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, N.M., some three months after he bested Cormier cost Jones his spot atop the division, as he was stripped of the light heavyweight title and suspended.
In his first fight since that win over Cormier, Jones was never really threatened, as he relied on a variety of kicks, occasional clinch work and a trio of late takedowns to sweep the scorecards against St. Preux. Still, the performance drew boos from those in attendance who remembered the Jones who would violently dismantle anyone in his path.
Cormier believes St. Preux deserves as least a little bit of credit for that.
“I think he fought the best he could tonight. He was gone for a long time, had a lot of issues outside of the Octagon, and Ovince St. Preux did a good job,” Cormier said. “You cannot take it away from Ovince. He fought hard. He showed him things he hasn’t seen before. Jon said it himself: He did not fight well tonight. Hat’s off to Ovince. Jon didn’t hold back. That was as good as he could do.
“When he leaves here, there will be questions as to why he looked as he did tonight. When he’s at home questioning that, it will only benefit me.”
Cormier was forced to withdraw from UFC 197 after suffering a leg injury in training. He hopes to be cleared to compete again on Monday, and if all goes as planned, he will be ready to avenge his previous loss to Jones come UFC 200.
“I go to the doctor on Monday. I feel much better already. I did stem cells and I’m able to walk good now. I feel like I can be healthy for anytime,” Cormier said. “UFC 200 needs a main event, and if the doctor gives me the go ahead. I’ll be ready to go. I’ve always been ready to go. I want nothing more than to fight this guy every day of the week.”