The Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier hatred never takes long to reignite.
Seconds into the UFC 200 news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, the chatter started. The first question asked of them barely was answered before the boos and banter kicked in.
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“Oh yeah, New York,” said Jones, nodding his head to chants of his name from the crowd. “You guys ready to see D.C. get his whooped again?”
And this was just a few hours after their rematch was officially announced on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The rivalry between the current and former champions is once again in the spotlight after a one-month hiatus. An injury to Cormier forced the champion to pull out of their scheduled bout at UFC 197 last Saturday. Jones stayed on the card, defeating Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision to win the interim title, but the result didn’t impress Cormier.
“I saw you struggle with Ovince Saint Preux, you show up like that, bum, I’m gonna whip that [expletive],” Cormier said. “You’re a bum.”
Jones replied, “I’m a bum that took your undefeated record.”
The pair first fought last January when Jones (22-1, 16-1 UFC), then the light heavyweight champion, handed Cormier (17-1, 6-1) his first career loss via unanimous decision. But a hit-and-run incident led to the UFC stripping Jones of his title, which Cormier has since won and defended.
While Jones has the interim belt, he made it known he believes Cormier’s title reign isn’t legitimate.
“Give me your address, I’m going to send some memorabilia to your house so your kids can have real champion material in their house,” Jones said.
Jones and Cormier do not like each other, but there’s professional courtesy between them. Cormier was among the play-by-play announcers for Jones’ last fight and didn’t find it difficult to stay unbiased despite a clear distaste for Jones.
“I really do respect him inside the Octagon,” Cormier said. “It’s great to see him back where he belongs fighting. It’s also never been an issue, what he’s done inside of this arena. I love that, I love watching him compete, so it wasn’t hard, and I respect what he did, but I have a job to do and I have to be impartial and I do that.”
Jones was willing to recognize what Cormier has accomplished, to an extent, but was ready to insult the former Olympian soon after.
“D.C. should have a lot of confidence. Outside of me, he’s the next best thing,” Jones said. “He can beat these other guys; he can’t beat me.”
“I don’t believe greatness is a coincidence, and I don’t believe D.C. is great,” Jones said. “If he was great, he would’ve beat [four-time NCAA champion] Cael Sanderson in college. If he was great, he would’ve made weight at the Olympics. If he was great, he would’ve beat me the first time.”
He may have lost last year, but Cormier is confident he can stifle Jones in July.
“Last time, I didn’t take Jon down as many times as I wanted to,” Cormier said. “This time, they’re going to say ‘fight,’ I’m going right over there to take him down, you guys can boo, I’m going to hold his down for 25 minutes.”