Daniel Cormier has been thinking about fighting Jon Jones for years. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
By beating Jon Jones at UFC 182, Daniel Cormier believes that he can permanently alter the course of the light heavyweight champion’s career.
“I think he falls back in the pack. He’ll get a rematch, but he’ll fall back. Once he knows he can get beat and no one is scared of him, he won’t win 10 in a row anymore,” Cormier said during an interview on UFC Tonight. “He’ll win some and he’ll lose some. He’ll go searching for answers and move to heavyweight. It’ll put doubt and questions in his head.”
“He’ll come out a different man. He might need to be convinced to take the rematch. He’ll lose to me and his career will go in a tailspin. I’m looking to rid MMA of Jon Jones.”
While he officially has one loss on his ledger, Jones has yet to truly taste defeat during his 21-bout professional mixed martial arts career. He was dominating Matt Hamill at “The Ultimate Fighter 10” finale in December 2009 before being disqualified for using illegal 12-to-6 elbows late in the first round.
Other than that, the Jackson-Wink MMA representative has rarely been tested in the Octagon, especially since he became captured 205-pound gold with a third-round stoppage of Mauricio Rua at UFC 128. During his reign, Jones has plundered the likes of Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Glover Teixeira.
Only his 2013 matchup with Alexander Gustafsson was victory in serious doubt; even then, “Bones” managed to emerge with unanimous decision victory.
Cormier has been targeting Jones since before he made his Octagon debut. That built up animosity is part of what is fueling him heading into their Jan. 3 bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“This is what I’ve wanted for years, since I met Jon. When I met him in 2010, our first interaction was unpleasant,” Cormier said. “He insulted me, so he gave me material and I put his picture on the wall and I have been looking at it since then. I want to beat him in his prime. This has been a goal for four years.”
Like Jones, Cormier is unbeaten in professional MMA competition. He won Strikeforce’s heavyweight grand prix with a dominant decision triumph against Josh Barnett in 2012 and garnered victories over Frank Mir and Roy Nelson in his first two UFC appearances before electing to move to 205 pounds. His run has continued there with lopsided wins over Patrick Cummins and Dan Henderson.
Before his fighting career took off, Cormier represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics, where he took fourth place in freestyle wrestling. He was also expected to represent his country in 2008, but had to withdraw due to kidney failure. Had things gone a little differently, Cormier admits that he might not be preparing for Jones right now.
However, life has a funny way of working out.
“I wouldn’t be here if I won gold. I look back at how things are meant to be. I lost because I wasn’t supposed to be the champion,” he said. “Those lessons were so I could learn. It all prepared me for Jan. 3. I’m supposed to be the UFC champion. That’s why I didn’t win the Olympics.”
As part of one of the most highly anticipated bouts in recent memory, Cormier is beginning to recognize the magnitude of the situation. He’s still vying for gold, and suddenly, the stakes seem just as high as they did a decade ago.
“For a long time I thought the Olympics was it; I represented America and nothing would match that. But as I get closer to this fight, this feels bigger. So many people are watching. And the ability to make money is life changing,” he said.
“It feels like this is bigger.”