Welcome MMA fans to my first column for Octagon 24/7! I provide analytical breakdowns, humorous, but informed opinions, and takes hotter than Paige VanZant in a sundress. Occasionally I will digress into many other topics: beer, movies, and the fact that Brock Lesnar’s horrendous chest tattoo is not utilized for comedic relief more often. I look forward to meeting every week and talking MMA and the Jones Cormier Hatred. And with that, enjoy.
Jones Cormier Hatred: Spark A New Friendship
Where were you in October 2010? Perhaps finishing grad school, celebrating a 20th anniversary, or welcoming a child into the family for the first time? I was running cross country for Morehead State University and on the morning of October 23, I was preparing for an interval workout before our conference championship the next week. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier however, haven’t changed at all.
As Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar were preparing to fight at UFC 121, young prospect Jon Jones was walking backstage when he saw Velasquez and the rest of his team from the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). This is how Jones described it to Fox Sports’ Andy Nesbitt in 2016:
“Quite a few years ago, Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez were fighting and me and my entourage were backstage and Daniel was with his. And one of my guys said, ‘Hey, there’s Cain Velasquez’s wrestling coach.’ So me being the outgoing guy I can be, I thought I would go up to him and spark up a new friendship, so I said to him, ‘Hey, man. I hear you’re a wrestling coach. I bet I could take you down any day of the week.’ And he’s just like, ‘Oh yeah, like, do you know who I am?’ And I said, ‘You’re, like, a wrestling coach.’ And he’s like, ‘I’m actually an Olympian and you should know who you’re talking to, son.’ And all this type of stuff. I walked away thinking, ‘That was awkward.'”
I am no expert on making new friends, but insulting someone to break the ice seems rudimentary and inappropriate for anyone over the age of 16. Cormier took it as a slight against his entire athletic career and life’s purpose and thus beginning the feud of the decade in mixed martial arts.
Four years later, we would finally get the second chapter.
Jones Cormier Hatred: Time Doesn’t Heal
Daniel Cormier had come down to the light heavyweight division (to avoid fighting his friend and teammate Cain Velasquez) and had most recently rag-dolled future UFC Hall of Famer Dan Henderson at UFC 173 en route to a technical submission victory. The wagons were circling and all signs were pointing to the inevitable showdown with Jon Jones. However, Cormier had to wait his turn.
In 2013, Jones and Alexander Gustafsson took part in one of the greatest fights of all-time with Jones prevailing via unanimous decision. This was the first opponent to make Jones look mortal and fans wanted more. After a one-sided victory over Glover Teixeira (and extending his title defense streak to seven) at UFC 172, the rematch with Gustafsson was scheduled for UFC 178.
However, fate, as it always does in MMA, intervened. Gustafsson was forced to withdraw in July 2014 with a training injury and the UFC selected Cormier as the replacement.
If there were any questions about whether the rivalry had simmered down after four years, they were answered at the infamous stare down on August 4, 2014.
The fight was a month and a half away; the UFC although “angry” over the incident was about to cash in on this authentic drama and milk every second of promotion; fans were in a state of bedlam because of the anticipation; and one week later the fight was rescheduled as Jones was forced to withdraw due to an injury.
Jones Cormier Hatred: The Battle
The sobering reality was crushing, but on January 3, 2015, our provocations reached intoxicating levels as the fight finally took place at UFC 182.
As a refresher, I went back and re-watched this fight and although revisionist history is awarded and wider scope of impact, this fight was closer than most remember.
Jones Cormier Hatred
Pre-fight: Jones attempts an AWKWARD glove touch as he attempts to save the fan perception that he is the “good guy.”
Round 1: Jones absolutely dominates as he attacks the body with knees, kicks, and punches. Clinical striking for Jones (10-9, JJ).
Round 2: Cormier shows signs of life as he is able to dirty box and dominate inside of the clinch (19-19).
Round 3: The closest round of the fight. Jones begins to neutralize Cormier’s grappling strategy with wrist control, but Cormier finds success as he opens up with some crisp boxing combinations. As he unloads on the feet though, fatigue is becoming visible (29-28, Cormier).
Round 4: A fatigued Cormier is completely dominated as Jones secures three takedowns and simply overpowers Cormier for the duration of the round (38-38).
Round 5: Having been neutralized by Jones wrist-control strategy in the clinch and being too tired to significantly strike, Cormier sells out for the takedown. Although Cormier did secure one brief takedown, Jones simply grinded his way to a unanimous victory (48-47, JJ in my book).
Before we dive into the last five seconds of the fight and the evolution of Jon Jones, let’s look at two less impactful, more humorous moments from the fight:
- Cain Velasquez and Steven Segal were near each other cageside and as the camera panned to them, Velasquez was passionately supporting his teammate while Segal surveyed the crowd as if the entire arena were Under Siege. Never change, Steven.
- We must always appreciate Herb Dean’s Chuck Taylor’s.
As the fight was ending, Jones raised his hands in victory as the final few seconds ticked away. Realizing this and that it was all over, Cormier disengaged and was presumably heading somberly to his corner. At the moment Cormier disengaged, Jones threw a haymaker (that missed) and the two scuffled before being separated. As Jones headed to his corner, he motioned a DX inspired crotch chop at him, but Jones still wasn’t finished being “classless.” Jones Cormier Hatred
So much for trying to be the good guy.
Jones had once again retained his title and despite his heel-turn display of sportsmanship, nothing had changed in the UFC landscape. But on April 28, 2015, everything would change.
Jones Cormier Hatred: Personal Demons
As Jones was preparing to face Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 187, he was stripped of his title and indefinitely suspended by the UFC for a felony hit-and-run charge pending against him.
As we all know, Cormier replaced Jones, defeated Rumble on May 23, 2015, at UFC 187, and cut his own promo:
In my opinion, this is where the term “rivalry” can firstly be used. Jones having never been beaten for his title, now had to helplessly watch someone he despised raise the light heavyweight championship in victory.
The suffering would continue for Jones as he watched Cormier defeat Alexander Gustafsson via split decision at UFC 192 on October 3, 2015.
Twenty days later, Jones was reinstated by the UFC and a target date was eventually set for UFC 197 on April 23, 2016, for Cormier/ Jones 2.
The fight was three weeks away; the UFC was once again about to cash in on this authentic drama (including Jones’ chance at a return to glory) and milk every second of promotion; fans were in a frenzy for the return of Jones; and on April 1, Cormier withdrew due to injury.
Sigh. (part 2).Jones Cormier Hatred
Jones Cormier Hatred: True Animosity Builds and ED
Ovince Saint Preux was tabbed as Cormier’s replacement and the bout was changed to be contended for the interim light heavyweight championship. Jones, with Cormier on commentary, easily won a unanimous decision victory. After the fight, he became the first person in UFC history to thank his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and then flip off a commentator. What a sport.
At this point, it already felt like a WWE rivalry, the only thing missing was DC storming the cage with a chair and Jim Ross shouting, “GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY HE KILLED HIM!” But the rivalry even continued its dramatic escalation from here.
UFC 200: the ultimate showcase of the company. Jones and Cormier had become the headliner after the McGregor/ Diaz fight was rescheduled. The unification bout was set, but in the middle of international fight week, the rivalry took another turn due to circumstances outside the octagon. Jones was pulled from the card due to a potential doping violation (later confirmed to be due to off-brand pill designed to deal with erectile dysfunction).
Sigh (part 3, combined with inexplicable crying).
You may remember Cormier’s emotional reaction to the news:
Anderson Silva faced Cormier instead in a non-title fight and Cormier grinded him out in a one-sided unanimous decision victory. Cormier fought uncharacteristically conservative as if he just wanted to escape with a win. But who can blame him after the colossal disappointment just 72 hours prior.
On November 7, 2016, Jon Jones’ was suspended for one year retroactive to his positive test. Jones once again watched helplessly as Cormier defeated Rumble for the second time on April 8, 2017, at UFC 210.
Reinstated in July, we are on the precipice of Jones and Cormier fighting for the second time. Will it happen? Who knows, but think of all the story lines ahead of us:
-Jones can return to glory and stake his claim as the greatest fighter of all time.
-DC can avenge his only professional loss and stake his claim as the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
-Jones could lose for the first time in his career and spiral down the wrong path again.
-DC could lose and retire from the sport entirely.
My anticipation is guarded by what has transpired in the past between these two, but then I remember this has been in the making since I was lacing up my Nikes on a cold morning in Morehead, Kentucky, in October of 2010. And with that, my guard is lifted and I am inundated with excitement. Have unguarded faith MMA fans and enjoy the fights!
Thanks for tuning in for the first of many columns! I encourage comments and emails to discuss anything MMA related further. I am not some pretentious writer who speaks only in facts; conversation, disagreements, and dialogue allow for topics to be explored at the greatest of depths with only the purest of truths being left exposed. Take that Bill Shakespeare!
Jones Cormier Hatred