Daniel Cormier waits in a time-out as he takes on...

Daniel Cormier waits in a time-out as he takes on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones during the UFC 182 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: Getty Images / Steve Marcus

LAS VEGAS - Long should have been the adjective to describe arms and legs and winning streaks during UFC 187 fight week, not shadows.

But Jon Jones is not here. He's no longer the UFC light heavyweight champion. He isn't even an active fighter for the mixed martial arts promotion right now, having been suspended indefinitely and stripped of his title late last month after being charged with a felony stemming from a car accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In place of Jones, we have Daniel Cormier - and plenty of questions. Will Jones go to jail? Will he ever fight again? Will he be the same fighter?

And then this one: Will the winner of Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson - Jones' original opponent - be considered the "real" UFC light heavyweight champion since he didn't beat Jones?

"Would it help to beat Jones?" Cormier said on last week's conference call. "Yes, but under the circumstances, I'm not sure it would do that much to change public perception because I believe people believe what they want to believe and it doesn't matter what you do."

Cormier expected the line of questioning from the moment he accepted the fight. It began that night and will continue this week as media flood this fight town in need of printable quotes and sound bites.

"If I was Anthony, I'd be a little annoyed because I'm only fighting for what I was promised when I beat the number one guy in the division in January," Cormier said, referring to Johnson's first-round TKO of Alexander Gustafsson.

That's the aura Jones (21-1) created since becoming the youngest champion in UFC history in 2011. Now 27, Jones holds the light heavyweight division record for most consecutive title defenses with eight.

That all went away when Jones became the first UFC champion to be stripped of the title for disciplinary reasons. Jones has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injuries after he allegedly was involved in a crash that injured a pregnant woman's arm.

All of that has nothing to do with Johnson or Cormier, both of whom still will face a similar round of questions at Wednesday's open workouts and Thursday's media day.

"It does get a little annoying because it's like people aren't showing the respect Daniel and I deserve," said Johnson, winner of three straight and two by first-round knockout. "It's like they - it's almost like they see us like some chumps or something like that, you know what I mean? Once again, we didn't make Jon do what he did. That was his own doing."

But not everything is problematic for Johnson.

"The part that's not disappointing is that I get to fight another elite athlete, a guy who in my opinion is actually a tougher fighter for me than Jon Jones," said Johnson (19-4).

Cormier's motto has been "embrace the grind." The two-time former U.S. Olympic wrestler carried that to a 15-fight win streak to begin his career. The one loss? Against Jones last January, where he was out-grinded by the grinder.

"The thing for me and Anthony to do is hold that belt proud," Cormier said. "High and be proud of the accomplishment that we will achieve next weekend because there are so many people in the world that will never ever reach that level."

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