Daniel Cormier doesn’t plan on repeating the mistakes of the past in his rematch with Jon Jones at UFC 214.
When the two light heavyweights first squared off at UFC 182 in January 2015, their rivalry was already intense, fueled by the now-infamous media day brawl the previous August before their scheduled bout at UFC 178 was postponed. That animosity did Cormier no favors in the Octagon, however, as he started relatively well but faded in the championship rounds en route to a clear-cut unanimous decision defeat.
This time, after having gone through the promotional process with Jones numerous times, Cormier doesn’t expect to let his emotions get the best of him come Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“Last time I brought a lot of that into the Octagon with me. It served me no good. You have to change things. If you make a mistake you learn from it, and that’s what I’m doing,” Cormier said during a recent press conference. “Not only the training had to be intense in terms of the fight but also the mental preparation too. Mentally I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I won’t take any of this animosity into the fight.
“I’ve always said there’s issues between you and a person and it’s issues outside of this sport, you can do that anywhere. It doesn’t have to be between the confines of the Octagon. If there are issues between Jon and I that need to be addressed after Saturday, then they’ll get addressed.”
Jones, of course, see things a little bit differently. He believes Cormier is using nerves as an excuse for losing their first fight.
“As far as the hatred going into the Octagon, Daniel’s already said the first time the adrenaline and that big fight feeling took over him and that was part of the reason why he lost,” Jones said. “I find that interesting. A guy who wrestled in the NCAAs, a guy who wrestled in the Olympics, a guy who fought for the Strikeforce championship. How could a guy with so much combat experience allow butterflies to be a reason why he lost the first fight? You want to know what’s in a man’s heart you go by the words that come out of his mouth, and he’s weak.”
When Jones was suspended indefinitely and stripped of his light heavyweight crown after fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in April 2015, Cormier claimed the vacant belt with a win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 187. He has since defended the belt twice, earning a split-verdict over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 and a second-round submission against Johnson in a rematch at UFC 210. “DC” also outpointed Anderson Silva at UFC 200 in a non-title bout after Jones was pulled from their rematch due to a failed drug test.
If not for Jones, it’s already possible the Cormier would be regarded as the sport’s top 205-pound talent ever, but for now, he knows his legacy depends on how he fares against his rival.
“I think in time the result of one fight will not overcome everything I’ve done in this sport. But the reality is for me I do need to win this fight,” Cormier said. “If you look at all the things I’ve done in my career, I’ve done it all outside of beating Jon Jones. It’s the last thing for me to do and yeah, it’s very important.”