Cormier: I will not fight Jon Jones
One of the UFC's most heated rivalries may never see a conclusion.
After two years of feuding with Jon Jones, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier has had enough of the drama that has held them to a single fight despite the two fighters being joined at the hip by their mutual disdain.
The straw that broke the camel's back was UFC 200 this past July when "Bones" was busted for an out-of-competition drug test three days before the heavily hyped event that he was set to headline opposite Cormier. The UFC was then forced to replace Jones with Anderson Silva.
While Jones and his team appeal the doping violation, the last thing Cormier wants to do is wait for him. He's targeting a match Anthony Johnson after seeing the No. 1-ranked fighter take out Glover Teixeira in 13 seconds at UFC 202.
Muddying up the situation further is UFC president Dana White saying that he sees Johnson possibly meeting Jones for a shot to face Cormier.
"We find ourselves in a weird situation," Cormier told ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "I don't necessarily think Anthony wants to fight Jon. He feels like he's earned the title shot and I've said time and time again I will not fight Jon.
"I think the horrible taste Jon has left in everyone's mouth in regards to his place in the division - it almost makes him a pariah. None of the best guys want to fight him because they don't feel they can trust him."
Cormier was victorious against Silva, but his safe, wrestling-heavy strategy resulted in him getting booed by the fans. Making the situation worse, the last-minute opponent change reportedly cut Cormier's $1 million purse in half.
Ironically, Cormier would not currently hold the light heavyweight championship were it not for Jones' involvement in a hit-and-run last year that saw him suspended and stripped of the title that he had successfully defended eight consecutive times. Jones was set for a title match against Johnson, but Cormier stepped in on short notice to defeat Johnson for the vacated belt.
"Anthony and I have been on the receiving end of two of the harshest things Jon has ever been in," Cormier said. "Me, on three days notice, UFC 200, biggest moment of my career, trying to get back that loss (and Jones is pulled). Anthony, three weeks before his first title shot, ends up fighting me and losing when he was preparing for Jon. We've both been burned before by him and it's hard to really trust him in that sense."
In their lone meeting in January 2015, Jones won a unanimous decision. As much as Cormier has wanted to avenge that loss, he's eager to move on from the Jones experience and grant a worthy challenger a title shot.
"The stance I'm taking right now in regards to not fighting (Jones) allows me to take control of my career and my life again," Cormier said. "I didn't expect that whenever we fought the first time ... I didn't expect my entire career to be hijacked by Jon Jones, but that's what it feels like for me.
"I've fought three times since I fought Jon. I won the belt, defended the belt, fought Anderson Silva - and everything is still about Jon Jones. I don't want that to be my career. I don't want that to be my reality. This gives me an opportunity to get off that ride."