Daniel Cormier’s next opponent hasn’t been confirmed by the UFC yet, but there’s one man it definitely won’t be — former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
Cormier and Jones have been one of the hottest feuds in MMA recently, yet have only fought a single time. Multiple other bouts have been cancelled to due to a number of things, including injuries and Jones failing a drug test before the biggest rematch of all at UFC 200. Now Cormier has no faith left that another planned Jones rematch would go off as planned.
“I think the horrible taste Jon has left in everyone’s mouth in regards to his place in the division – it almost makes him a pariah,” said Cormier, according to Brett Okamoto of ESPN. “None of the best guys want to fight him because they don’t feel they can trust him.”
Jones is facing a two-year ban for his failed drug test, although many people, including UFC Dana White, seem optimistic that it could be reduced to six months if his team successfully argue that it was the result of a tainted supplement and not an intentional doping infraction.
The most obvious fight would be against Anthony Johnson, who made a strong case for a title shot by knocking out Glover Teixeira in just 13 seconds at UFC 202. However, Johnson and Cormier have already fought once, when Cormier stepped in on short notice to fight Johnson for the vacated belt (which was taken away from Jones following his hit and run incident).
“We find ourselves in a weird situation,” Cormier said. “I don’t necessarily think Anthony wants to fight Jon. He feels like he’s earned the title shot and I’ve said time and time again I will not fight Jon.”
“Anthony and I have been on the receiving end of two of the harshest things Jon has ever been in,” Cormier said. “Me, on three days notice, UFC 200, biggest moment of my career, trying to get back that loss (and Jones is pulled). Anthony, three weeks before his first title shot, ends up fighting me and losing when he was preparing for Jon. We’ve both been burned before by him and it’s hard to really trust him in that sense.”
For many fans, Cormier will never truly be king of the division until he proves he can defeat Jones. After all, when not affected by all these other distractions and controversies, Jones is probably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Unfortunately, with Jones proving he is just as good at beating himself these days, the oppurtunity may never come, leaving Cormier and Jones forever tied together.
“The stance I’m taking right now in regards to not fighting (Jones) allows me to take control of my career and my life again,” Cormier said. “I didn’t expect that whenever we fought the first time … I didn’t expect my entire career to be hijacked by Jon Jones, but that’s what it feels like for me.
“I’ve fought three times since I fought Jon. I won the belt, defended the belt, fought Anderson Silva – and everything is still about Jon Jones. I don’t want that to be my career. I don’t want that to be my reality. This gives me an opportunity to get off that ride.”