Cormier vs Jones 2: A Rivalry for the Ages continues

Danial & Musawirmixed martial arts (MMA)Leave a Comment



By Syed Musawir Abbas Rizvi (@musawir_syed)

How did the rivalry start?

Since its origin, Mixed Martial Arts has seen a lot of rivalries but rarely has there been any one of them equal to the rivalry, the grudge and the hate between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. It started in a very ignorable way at a pre-fight press conference/ weigh-in for UFC 121: Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez. Daniel Cormier was Cain’s wrestling coach back then and he was in the back during a pre-fight press-conference/weigh-in for UFC 121 alongwith Cain’s other training partners & coaches when Jon Jones approached him, smiled and said: “Hey man, I’ve heard about you. You are Cain’s wrestling coach. I bet that I can take you down anytime.”

Cormier found these comments from the then UFC Light Heavyweight Champion very derogatory and reacted in a way that Jones found very weird and awkward. According to Jones he was trying to start a new friendship with Cormier but Cormier stated that: “He came to me, looked down upon me and started making derogatory comments about taking me down and I didn’t like it. I’ll never allow anyone to bully me.” Jones said that Cormier’s behavior was childish and he recently said that Cormier is just a hater.

Since that meeting, a grudge started between two of the very best Light Heavyweights in MMA and it built into a full hatred and it was fueled by the dominant run of both Jones and Cormier in the UFC, which forced UFC to set this bout as the main event of the biggest baddest card in the history of the UFC, none other than UFC 200.


What happened at UFC 182?

This is not the first time these two titans are facing each other. Well, they have faced each other a lot of times in the parking lots, press conferences and any other place you can imagine outside the octagon. But right now, we are talking about their first battle inside the octagon that was initially set for UFC 178 but later shifted to UFC 182 where these two main evented the show and Jon Jones put his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line against Daniel Cormier on January 4, 2015. It was a very closely contested fight as far as the number of strikes was concerned. First round was in favor of Jones but second and third round were very close. In first three rounds, especially in 2nd and 3rd, Cormier managed to get inside the pocket and close the distance to at least neutralize Jones’s long reach advantage. Cormier landed some good punches and upper cuts and even started landing kicks but he got his leg caught on one occasion and Jones took him down straight away. This was the first time that Cormier got taken down in his entire MMA career; no one has ever taken Cormier down other than Jon Jones who had already predicted in his pre-fight interviews that he was going to test Cormier’s wrestling skills. After that, Cormier stopped or at least reduced the frequency of his kicks. It was quite obvious from the starting bell that the fight was not going Cormier’s way because Cormier’s best game plan was to take Jones down or engage him in the clinch, smother him and beat him up, but he could not take Jones down as much as he wanted to. Out of 8 takedown attempts, Cormier completed only 1 successfully and even when he took Jones down, he could not hold him there even for a few seconds because Jon Jones sprang right back up.

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In the first three rounds, things didn’t go according to anyone’s game plan exactly. But, it was the fourth round where Jon Jones completely dominated the fight and turned it in his favor. As Cormier’s cardio started dropping and his gas tank started getting empty, Jones capitalized on the opportunity and took the former US Olympic Wrestler down not once, not twice, in fact thrice and beat him up with some vicious ground and pound. When Cormier pushed Jones to the cage, he always found a way to get his back off the cage, but it didn’t happen when the big man reversed the position on Daniel Cormier, because when Jones put Cormier on his back in the clinch or on the ground, Cormier could not get his back off the cage or off the canvas. After fourth round, when Cormier went back to his corner, he looked clearly exhausted and there was chaos in his camp as Crazy Bob Cook clearly told him that: “I tell you what, you had a win Daniel, but the only way you are now winning this fight is by finishing him. You have to go and finish him. Knock him out or submit him.”

In the fifth and final round, Cormier tried his best to take Jon Jones down but Jones successfully defended it until he finally got taken down for a second, but got right back up. Nothing really happened in that round. However, both of them exchanged punches after the bell rang and they had to be separated by the referee Herb Dean who nearly got himself caught by a punch from Cormier. This made it clear that all the bad blood in that ultimate grudge match didn’t come to an end there; in fact, it proved to be the opening door for more match ups in one of the bitterest rivalries in the history of UFC. Jon Jones literally beat the king of wrestling, the king of grind at his own game and he won the fight via unanimous decision to retain his title. For Cormier, it was nothing less than a heart-break as he ended up in tears and cried all the way from the octagon to his room and from there to the post-fight press conference.

In the post fight interviews, Jones showed no respect at all as he clearly said that: “I don’t like DC. I don’t respect DC. I hope he is crying somewhere in the corner and I am sure he is.”

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Swift Turn of Events

  • Suspension of Jones from UFC & stripping him of the title

On 27th April 2015, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones was found involved in a hit-and-run car accident and was arrested in Albuquerque as he injured a pregnant woman named Vanessa Sonnenberg. Dana White announced on the night of 28th April that he attended the court session to hear Jon’s side of the story as there were many untrue things being said about what happened that day but Jon’s lawyer didn’t have him say much and later Jones said this on Twitter:

As soon as Dana White got the correct information, the UFC immediately stripped Jon Jones of his title and suspended him indefinitely.

  • Daniel Cormier wins the title

Before all this happened, Jon Jones was set to face Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson in a title bout by putting his UFC light heavyweight championship on the line. However, after the accident and Jones’s suspension, UFC replaced Jon Jones with Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 187 on May 23, 2015. Anthony Johnson had secured his No.1 title contender status by defeating Alexander ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson in a title eliminator bout at Gustafsson’s home, Sweden.

As scheduled, UFC 187 was held on May 23, 2015. In the main event, Daniel Cormier faced Anthony Johnson for the title. Anthony Johnson who is famous for his ferocity and some extremely effective Knock out power in his strikes lived upto his name and his fame as he wobbled DC earlier in the 1st round when his one big right hand caused DC to hit the canvas. However, DC recovered, engaged Rumble in the clinch and eventually took him down, smothered him and beat him up with his trademark ground and pound in both 1st and 2nd rounds. DC took Johnson down in the third round and got his back and eventually submitted him via Rear Naked choke to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and the first man other than Jon Jones since 2011 to hold that title.

  • UFC 192: Cormier vs Gustafsson

Cormier made his first title defense against the man who posed the biggest challenge to Jon Jones during his reign and was considered the biggest threat to DC’s title, The Mauler, Alexander Gustafsson. In the first round, Cormier took Gustafsson down and controlled him on the ground but in later rounds, he did an unusual thing as he didn’t even try to take Gustafsson down and traded punches and kicks with his opponent who not only had a very significant height and reach advantage but had a very strong skill set in striking as compared to DC. In the post-fight interview, Cormier said that he didn’t take Gustafsson down because he wanted to prove a point that he can stand and trade shots with any elite striker in the world. Cormier won the fight by split decision and made his first successful title defense.

  • UFC 197: Jon ‘Bones’ Jones Returns
  UFC 200

UFC reinstated Jon Jones in the beginning of 2016 and he was set to face Daniel Cormier in a title bout at UFC 197 on April 23, 2016 in MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada to reclaim the title that he never lost in the octagon. However, about two weeks before the fight, DC pulled out of the bout due to an injury and he was replaced by Ovince Saint Preux. Jon Jones faced OSP for the UFC Interim Light Heavyweight Championship and won the fight via unanimous decision. While leaving the octagon, he flipped Daniel Cormier who was sitting with the UFC commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan and watching the fight very closely. This win made it compulsory and mandatory for Daniel Cormier to face Jon Jones in a title unification bout.

  • Final word on DC vs Jones 2: It is not just a rematch. It is a war!!

UFC announced that Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier rematch was fixed as the main event of UFC 200 after McGregor vs Diaz rematch was removed from the card. This time the positions of these two men are different. At UFC 182, Jon Jones was the champion while DC was the challenger but now Daniel Cormier is the champion and Jon Jones is looking to reclaim his title that he never lost inside the octagon.

There is one thing for sure that this fight is not going to be boring. There will be fireworks. There will be some elite class wrestling, excellent striking and a fierce competition between the two competitors. For Jon Jones the key is to do what he always does, use his height and long reach advantage to throw vicious elbows and knees, look out for the spots to take DC down and control him on the ground, look out for submissions as well, be unpredictable as he always is with his ever evolving game & technique and new weapons.

For Cormier, it is necessary to get into the pocket, close the distance, absorb a few strikes while shooting, look for takedowns and ground & pound. Cormier cannot beat Jones if he stays on the outside and tries to make it a striking battle because he will have an obvious disadvantage in striking because Jon Jones is a much better, precise, and complicated striker than Alexander Gustafsson, moreover, his cardio is very good so he is not going to gas out like Gustafsson and he is very well rounded and unpredictable as compared to Gustafsson or any other opponent for that matter.

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