Jon Jones wants Daniel Cormier to have what is his.
Following his UFC 214 victory over Cormier, it looked like Jones was on his way to heavyweight to try and become a two division champion. Jones called out Brock Lesnar in his UFC 214 post-fight interview and Dana White claims a Jones-Stipe Miocic super fight was talked about (Miocic denies ever being contacted for a Jones fight).
Instead, Jones tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was suspended for up to four years. With Jones sidelined, Cormier moved up to heavyweight and defeated Miocic to become the Heavyweight Champion at UFC 226. Speaking to ESPN's Ariel Helwani, Jones discussed what it was like watching Cormier win the Heavyweight Title.
"I was legitimately happy for Daniel Cormier. I felt like he was extremely deserving of becoming a UFC champion," he said. "I felt like for the first time, the night he won, he became an actual UFC champion. I think he was an extremely successful light heavyweight, but I don't ever think he was the light heavyweight champion. I consider myself the light heavyweight champion since 2011, despite what happened. He joined a club of champions, and I was legitimately happy for him because from afar I know how hard of a worker he is, and I think the heavyweight championship couldn't be in more deserving hands."
With Jones having his suspension reduced to 15 months, making him eligible to fight by the end of the year, many have wondered if Jones will challenge Cormier for the Heavyweight Title. If Jones has his way, he won't tread on Cormier's division.
"Challenging Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight championship would be me making it personal, and it's not personal," he said. "I'm not the one who went home crying the first and second times we fought. That was him. There's nothing inside of me that wants to take things from him or make his life harder in any way. I just want what's rightfully mine. He can have what's rightfully his and we can all get along."
Jones holds two victories over Cormier, both at light heavyweight, although the second fight was changed to a no contest due to Jones' failed drug test. Jones won the first fight by unanimous decision and the second fight by knockout in the third round. With two visual victories, Jones has no interest in a third fight at any weight.
"I already have all the marbles when it comes to Daniel Cormier. I've beaten him twice," he stated. "This game has never been personal. What is personal to me is chasing greatness, not individuals. So in the case of myself and Daniel Cormier, he needs to fight myself one more time if he ever wants to be considered one of the all-time greats. I don't need to fight him again to be considered one of the all-time greats. I have many more years to prove it."
While Jones' next fight has not been announced, rumors peg him as fighting Alexander Gustafsson for the Light Heavyweight Title at the end of the year. Cormier is the current Light Heavyweight Champion, but could be stripped of his title if he takes his next fight at heavyweight. Such a move would be justified in Jones' book.
"I understand where he is coming from (not wanting to be stripped), and I understand his frustration, but I think he needs to look outside himself and see where I'm coming from in this situation," he said. "If USADA came to the conclusion that all the science points to this being a complete accident and unintentional, a part of me feels like the belt should be handed back to me. A part of me feels like I shouldn't even have to fight for the belt against Alexander Gustafsson because I was proven innocent. In a way, the belt was never his in the first place. He was given the belt."
Whether Jones and Cormier fight for a third time remains to be seen. Dana White has already stated that he would like to see a third bout and that he would like it at heavyweight. Cormier and Jones have continued to trade social media barbs in the last week, adding more fuel to their already building burning fire.