Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Their heated rivalry exploded into a brawl in the middle of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and provided numerous volatile exchanges during press conferences and interviews, not to mention a pair of fights that reportedly sold more than 1.6 million pay-per-views combined.
Now as Cormier prepares for the final fight of his legendary career on Aug. 15, he’s largely put Jones behind him because the former two-division UFC champion understands that they will never meet again. That said, Cormier hears Jones’ name quite often but how they address each other has changed dramatically over the years.
Just recently when appearing on Steve-O’s podcast, Jones was asked about Cormier and he had nothing but compliments for his former opponent.
“I respect D.C.,” Jones said. “I think he’s an outstanding man. I think he represents himself very well. I think he represents African-Americans very well. He represents the UFC very well. Being a father, being an athlete, he’s very well spoken, he’s a great commentator.”
While he’ll never consider Jones a friend, Cormier returned the favor when asked about the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion.
“The reality is when you’re in the octagon — this guy I was in the octagon with over 40 minutes — if you can’t respect a person in that capacity when you’re done with them, then who can you respect?” Cormier told MMA Fighting. “I do respect Jones in terms of what he does as an athlete, what he’s been able to do and all those things.
“The reality is like you said, it doesn’t have to be a friendship and it won’t be.”
The one misconception that Cormier wants to clear up, however, is that the rivalry he shared with Jones was so mired in disdain for each other that he somehow didn’t respect him as a fighter or opponent.
Cormier has never considered Jones anything less than one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and he had no problem admitting that in the past much less now as his career is coming to a close.
“I do respect him as a competitor. I never said I didn’t,” Cormier said. “That’s where it gets all confused when they talk about this thing between him and I. I never not respected him as a competitor. It was all the other stuff I had a problem with.
“I never did that. If you’re an honest guy, which I try to think I am, you tell the truth. You can respect a person for their skills. I do respect those skills.”