Jon Jones blames lesser UFC 197 performance on opponent switch, thinks he’d have beaten Daniel Cormier up

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Jon Jones (photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today Sports)

Jon Jones came off as rusty to most in his return to action at UFC 197, but the former long-reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion said afterward that he didn’t feel it was ring rust at all.

“I think it was more the switch of opponents,” Jones said at the post-fight press conference (via “If you’ve been following my career, you know how big I’m into studying. I’m huge into studying. Me and my team, that’s what we do. It’s why I’m so confident going into my fights because I know what I’m getting into. Tonight, Ovince just threw a completely different thing than what I had prepared for. I’m going to say it was more the switch of opponents than ring rust.”

Indeed, while Daniel Cormier believes he missed out on an opportunity to fight a more vulnerable Jones, “Bones” himself believes he wouldn’t have had any issues with the current belt holder.

“I would have beat him up pretty good because I am tuned up to be fighting Daniel Cormier,” Jones said. “All my technique, my angles, my ideas, I’ve been working for Daniel Cormier for over seven months. I believe I could beat Daniel Cormier right now. For sure and I’m going to prove that as soon as possible.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. I think you guys will see that when I fight DC. Like I keep saying, I have been working so hard to beat DC. You guys will see that. This change of opponents really threw me off my game.”

Penick’s Analysis: It’s a reasonable enough explanation for some of the tentativeness in Jones’ performance, and perhaps had Cormier remained the opponent we would have seen him perform even better. Regardless, the fact that Jones still scored a clean sweep and a clearly dominant win over a top ten opponent in what was far from his best performance remains pretty damned impressive. Will we see he and Cormier finally clear things up at UFC 200? We should find out this week whether or not that fight will be on the schedule.

[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]

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