In case you didn’t hear the news the first 10,000 times it made the rounds, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier don’t like each other. Really, really don’t like each other. We’re beyond professional dislike at this point. And while there’s a pro wrestling style edge to their antics (both men have been known to show up at WWE events), it really does seem personal.
At the UFC Summer Kickoff press conference in Dallas today, the saga between the two continued. It was just what the doctor ordered for the UFC marketing machine, which has taken its lumps of late. Anderson Silva is seriously peeved at the promotion, and off UFC 212. Ronda Rousey is nowhere to be found. Conor McGregor is busy having a kid, and securing a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. Georges St. Pierre may not being fighting Michael Bisping after all.
Jones (22–1) has never been the draw any of those fighters were, with one exception really: his rivalry with Daniel Cormier. He won the pair’s first meeting at UFC 182 in January 2015. The problem is, he has only fought once since then, and that was after being stripped of the light heavyweight championship following a hit-and-run incident that injured a pregnant woman. Which came after testing positive for cocaine in advance of the Cormier fight. Which came after a litany of car accidents and drunk driving mishaps in the years prior.
Then there was last Summer’s U.S. Anti-Doping Agency test failure prior to UFC 200, which Jones blamed on a sexual performance aid. That resulted of him being stripped of his interim light heavyweight title earned in his fight against Ovince St. Preux. Jones had won the title just months earlier.
In short, for every bit as good as Jones has been in the ring, he has been an unmitigated disaster outside of it. Yet the pair will meet again, at UFC 214. The news became official today at the UFC Summer Kickoff press conference, though it was not confirmed whether the pair will headline.
The sparks flew before the event even started, however. Michael Chiesa captured a confrontation between the two backstage:
Michael Cheisa filmed the pre-presser bust up between Jones and DC pic.twitter.com/VgIcQ5ye92
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) May 12, 2017
At the press conference proper, things were a little less heated — but just a little. The crowd booed Jones heavily, but he ignored it, saying how happy he was to back back, in front of the UFC audience. “I had a lot of time to reflect on how much this MMA career means to me, and I made up my mind that this means a lot to me” he said. “I cannot wait to get back everything that I lost. I’m so excited to be back here and fight against D.C., one of my greatest rivals. Expect fireworks, it’s gonna be a great fight.”
He referred to the backstage incident, using it as evidence that the buildup to the fight would be something special. Then, when asked if Cormier was holding the real belt, Jones set off quite the exchange:
“F*** no” Jones said. “He never beat me. He never beat me. So the belt that he has over there is an imaginary belt. I messed up outside the octagon, I got that taken away from me. But the guy has never beaten me.”
Jones explained further, stating that “in order to be the champion, you have to beat the champion. He can fight all the other light heavyweights that he wants, he can fight every light heavyweight, but until he beats me, that belt is a piece of s***.”
To which Cormier responded “He’s a b***. He’s a b***. He said something about my kids, so I smacked him in the face with a water bottle.” It remains to be seen if there will be any penalty for that action.
Cormier continued, saying “he just said he’s back, right? But is he back? Are you back Junkie? You’re a knob. You’re a junkie. You’ve got two more months before you’re actually back.”
The entire time, Jones continued goading the champion, bringing up that he’d defeated Cormier in their first fight. “You know the beauty in me being the competitor that I am?” Cormier replied. “I’ve forgotten about that, I’m gonna whip your punk a**.”
The two continued with more of the same later in the press conference.
Neither fighter was aware of whether the fight would be the main event of the UFC 214 card. Host Jon Anik suggested Dana White would announce a decision later. UFC 214 takes place July 29 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.