On December 10, in the main event of UFC 206, Daniel Cormier will attempt to defend the UFC light heavyweight title against streaking contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Cormier will enter the bout having recently defeated middleweight great Anderson “The Spider” Silva in a last-minute, non-title light heavyweight showdown on the main card of UFC 200. Rumble, meanwhile, will enter the fight with three straight knockout victories behind him, having recently snuffed Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader, and most recently, former title challenger Glover Teixeira. Whoever emerges as the victor of this bout will stand out as the bona fide best light heavyweight currently competing in the UFC.
The keyword in that last sentence, though, is currently. While Cormier and Rumble stand out as the two best active light heavyweights, neither has accomplished as much as former champion Jon Jones.
Jones never really lost the title, either.
After handing Cormier a unanimous decision defeat in January of 2015, the former champion stripped of his title as the result of a series of ugly brushes with the law. A little over a year later, he returned to win the interim light heavyweight title by defeating Ovince St. Preux, who replaced an injured Cormier on short notice. Just weeks removed from this win, however, Jones was notified of a potential violation by the United States Doping Agency, and was handed an indefinite suspension.
This catches up to the current day, when Cormier and Rumble are fighting in the shadow of Jones, who just can’t seem to get his life together outside the cage.
In a recent interview with Michael Landsberg of TSN, Cormier and Rumble weighed in on Jones’ current situation. Though the two light heavyweights differ in their prediction of the outcome of their upcoming fight, they agreed whole-heartedly that Jones is no longer relevant.
“No, [he’s not relevant] because he’s not fighting,” Cormier told Landsberg. What made him relevant was the fact that he could fight and he could fight well. He’s not fighting anymore. He’s a normal guy that did a lot of things in the past. He’s any other guy that, at this point, is retired because he’s not in the game.”
“When people ask me about Jon, they ask me like ‘what’s going on with that guy?’,” Rumble said, echoing Cormier’s statement. “They don’t ask me about his athletic ability anymore, and his greatness inside the cage, they talk about his problems outside the cage. Nobody’s perfect, we’ve all had our problems outside the cage, but his are just amazing.”
Cormier and Rumble also offered up their thoughts on the fact that Jones still holds the interim title. Once again, the two light heavyweights agreed on the matter.
“I have no idea why there’s still an interim title,” Cormier said. “It’s just kind of slipped through the cracks and nobody’s paying attention to it.”
“[The interim belt] is irrelevant, that’s just what it is,” Rumble added. “It’s pointless.”
Rumble also told Landsberg that he really doesn’t care if Jones returns to the cage or not.
“If he comes back, he comes back, and if he doesn’t he doesn’t,” he said. “I don’t care either way.”
Safe to say that the current light heavyweight champion and number one contender are keen to leave the struggling Jones behind. Do you think we’ll ever see Jones back in the Octagon? Sound off, PENN nation!