Make no mistake, Daniel Cormier would still be up for a third bout with longtime rival Jon Jones.
But Cormier wants to make one thing clear: He no longer needs a win over Jones to secure his place among the sport’s all-time greats after knocking out Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 to become only the second simultaneous two-division champion in promotion history. That accomplishment, Cormier says, stands on its own.
“I think that with this, I don’t need him,” Cormier said at the UFC 226 post-fight press conference. “This, for everyone that said you’re a fake champion, you’re not a real champion. You can’t question this one. You may question that light heavyweight title, you can question it to the grave, but I have something completely separate from him. And I’m very grateful for it because everything was tied to that guy no matter how much I beat everybody up. It was always, ‘Well you lost to Jones.’
“…I’m a champion and I am one of the greatest fighters of all time.”
UFC President Dana White agreed with Cormier’s thought process.
“This was the right fight for him. If you think about his career, he steps down from heavyweight to go to light heavyweight because his friend [Cain Velasquez] is at heavyweight. He goes to 205, has an incredible career down there but has that Jon Jones thing….He’s got the shadow of Jon Jones, moves back up to heavyweight and knocks out the best heavyweight ever in the history of the UFC in the first round decisively.
“I think what this does is finally gives him the respect he deserves. He’s a two-division champion. Now he’s got a big fight ahead of him. Big fight, big payday. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s an incredible ambassador for the sport.”
Now, a blockbuster bout with Brock Lesnar looms large for Cormier. The two men engaged in a shoving match in the Octagon following Cormier’s win at UFC 226, setting the stage for a massive heavyweight title fight sometime in the not-too-distant future.
With Cormier looking at possibly two more fights and then retirement by March, he only plans on accepting fights against big names. Jones would fit that bill, but with his pending USADA case and troubled history, Cormier isn’t willing to concede anything to “Jonny Bones” at this point.
“I would [consider pushing back retirement] if he’s around, but I don’t know if he’s gonna be around,” Cormier said. “Honestly at this point does he even deserve all these fights? I hold the cards now. You may have won the fights, but I hold the cards, I’m the one that competed. I’m the one that went up and did something that you were not going to do. I went up and fought the baddest man on the planet, the most successful heavyweight champion of all time…and I won.”