Back in 2011, UFC 128 was the occasion for a record-breaking moment in history. The light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua took on Jon Jones, and when a body shot and a knee to the head brought the champ to his knees, the 23-year-old Jones became the youngest competitor in UFC history to win a title. Fast forward to the present day, however, and Jones’ star in 2017 is much dimmer than it was six years ago.
Despite holding an awesome fight record of 22 wins and just one defeat (against Matt Hammil in 2009), Jon Jones has courted controversy throughout his career. After his arrest relating to a hit-and-run felony, Jon Jones was stripped of his title and removed from the official UFC rankings in April 2015. By October, he was back on the roster, but tested positive for banned substances a year later and has been banned from the UFC ever since.
Ahead of UFC 210, Jon Jones is rumoured to be in Buffalo for the showcase event, and is expected to watch the fights get underway, as well as attend a post-UFC party. The headline event is Daniel Cormier’s attempt to defend the light heavyweight title previously held by Jones, but Daniel Cormier says that he won’t take too kindly to the former champ stepping into the octagon after the fight.
“He better not come in my cage after I win. He’s not welcome in there. He’s still suspended. When he’s eligible to fight, he can walk in there. But if he dares to step foot in that octagon… something bad will happen.”
Cormier, who has an 18-1 record in his MMA career, is set to take on the 22-5 Anthony Johnson on Saturday at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Jon Jones remains the only person to beat Cormier in the octagon, winning via unanimous points decision at UFC 182, but the rivalry was notable for a fight that broke out during during a press conference leading up to the fight, which was delayed for four UFC events, having initially been scheduled for UFC 178.
Jones may be banned from competing at the UFC, but there’s nothing stopping from attending the post-fight party in Buffalo. Cormier retains a degree of respect for Jones, calling him the “most talented athlete” he’s ever fought, but speaking to MMA junkie, he also alluded to Jones’ history of drug and alcohol abuse, and suggested a party atmosphere might not be best for Jon Jones.
“This is where he’s from. I get it. But if it was me and I was in his situation, I wouldn’t be here. Whoever made an after-party for a recovering alcoholic has to be the smartest human being on the planet. I mean, come on. I’m dumbfounded. You put that guy in a party situation? Good luck. The guy is the most talented athlete I’ve ever competed against. The guy is so good in every aspect of fighting. For him to do what he’s done to limit the history he was making, it’s crazy. It’s sad. But at the end of the day, I have to worry about myself and Anthony Johnson. You guys care about Jon Jones. We don’t. He’s a non-factor.”
Ahead of UFC 210 on Saturday, Cormier is clearly trying to focus on his fight with Johnson. The headline fight is set to be hotly contested between two MMA fighters at the top of their game, and Cormier’s going to have to be at his best if he wants to defend his light heavyweight title.
At the same time, Cormier makes some pretty cogent points about his former opponent, Jon Jones. There’s clearly a lot of animosity between the pair, but Cormier’s comments reflect a begrudging respect for the former light heavyweight champion, and shines a light on one of the MMA’s biggest examples of wasted potential.