HEYDORN’S TAKE: Daniel Cormier deserves all the attention from fight fans during the Jon Jones steroid saga

BY ZACK HEYDORN, MMATorch Contributor

Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones (photo credit Jayne Kamin-Oncea © USA Today)

I’m tired of Jon Jones, anyone else? Maybe I should take a drug or two to wake up? I’m sure he’d have one ready for me. On the surface, I get it. Jones is a major UFC star and attracts attention. That said the attention he gets is regularly disastrous for him and for the UFC. A few weeks back the news broke that Jon Jones failed an USADA drug test in the lead up to his UFC 214 light heavyweight championship fight against Daniel Cormier. In the fight, Jones regained the title by TKO in the third round. The news of Jones failing that test would have been shocking at any time, but it was infinitely more deflating and self-sabotaging this time around given the fact that this UFC 214 fight was his much anticipated return to the octagon from a PED suspension in 2016. Jones and his team responded to the failed test by stating their belief that it was either a false positive or a calculated effort to sabotage Jon Jones’s return. Does Jones sabotaging himself count?

This week, news broke that a second B test confirmed the failure and finally solidified the fact that Jon Jones is a fraud. He’s a cheater and it’s possible that he always was a cheater. No matter what side of the fence you’re on for that argument, there is no argument against the fact that Jones ruined the UFC 214 story. He ruined any good standing he had with UFC fans and he also obliterated the relationship between himself, the UFC, and UFC President Dana White. What’s worse is that he also ruined Daniel Cormier. That is unforgivable. The dramatic headlines may read Jon Jones, but Daniel Cormier deserves the real attention now.

Daniel Cormier outclasses Jon Jones as a fighter in every conceivable way. The UFC regularly can count on him as he makes his fights and helps the company promote itself whenever possible. He understands his role as a fighter, but also as a businessman within a billion dollar company. Sometimes that role is selfless which is why Jon Jones could never fully grasp it. Daniel Cormier isn’t a selfish man. The recognition he had in his role led to an immeasurable amount of respect between him and the UFC and also between him and UFC fans. In turn, Cormier was afforded an abundance of opportunities to line his pocket book. In the last few years he’s been featured only on PPV cards where the opportunity for increased pay is higher, and he is a color commentator for cards he isn’t fighting on. Cormier became an all-around ambassador for the sport of MMA while Jon Jones became an all-around laughing stock.

Cormier appears to be a better fighter when compared to Jones. Jon Jones certainly has incredible skills inside the octagon. That said his skills and record will forever be in question due to his involvement with performance enhancing drugs prior to fights. The UFC started drug testing via their program with USADA in July of 2015. Jones was scheduled for three fights since then. The first was a fight with Ovince Saint Preux for the interim light heavyweight championship at UFC 197. Jones won via unanimous decision. He was then scheduled to fight Cormier in a mega main event at UFC 200 for the unified light heavyweight title. He was removed from that fight due to a drug failure and suspended for one year. His next fight was the UFC 214 bout against Cormier that he won, but will get suspended for again due to another positive test for PED’s. Cormier is 19-2 and has fought and beaten the toughest opponents in his division. Aside from Jon Jones, nobody seems to be ready or able to knock him off his pedestal. Those two losses, both are to Jones. One of which was to a Jones that was juiced to the gills. The other, we’ll never know. Reasonable arguments can be made that he may have been juicing then too. After all, USADA testing was not in place during that fight.

If Cormier stood today as an undefeated fighter, he’d be more heralded and respected than he already is now. Further, he and the UFC would both be making more money because undefeated streaks sell in the fight game. Those two Jones losses changed everything. Cormier was beating Jones through two rounds at UFC 214 before a mistake led to a leg kick that did him in. Had Jones not been juicing, the damage he sustained in the first two rounds from Cormier would have meant more and the fight could have gone in a different direction. The same can be said about their classic first fight at UFC 182. With the shadow of PED’s surrounding Jones, “what if” now accompanies all of his fights. Cormier is free from that shadow. His pristine record is clean through and through. He’s dominated throughout his career and because of Jon Jones his losses are tainted. The end game from that is simple. Daniel Cormier should be considered the best pound for pound MMA fighter in the world today. Where are the headlines on that?

Cormier and Jones had a bitter rivalry that was well documented throughout the years. It was clear that neither liked each other and for a while barely respected each other. At the core of this rivalry was competition. Both men wanted to be the best. Fight fans loved it. As in any good drama, the element of reality can lift a story to incredibly high levels. Jones and Cormier fought for championships and in main events but it was their personal detest for one another that really engaged fans and created the drama. Much of that dislike came from the Cormier side as he always seemed to believe he was dealing with an immature punk. That attitude manifested in sympathy from fans toward Jones and in some, resentment toward Cormier. As it turns out, Cormier was right on the money with his Jones assessment and it’s unfortunate that he was loaded with that resentment from fans in favor of a liar. Cormier isn’t the kind of guy to say I told you so, but he told us loud and clear.

In front of the world, Daniel Cormier endured an unimaginable amount of pain that had nothing to do with being kicked in the face. With his soul on the canvas he lost a fight, man to man, that he didn’t want to lose. In true championship form he handled the loss like a professional and gave respect to an opponent he despised. With this positive drug test Jon Jones spit in the face of this respect and played Cormier for a fool. Cormier and Jones berated each other for years, but nothing compares to the disrespect Jon Jones showed Cormier by beating him while on steroids. Cormier left a part of himself in the octagon that night at UFC 214. That piece of him should still be intact. Jon Jones cheated and he can never get it back now. What he can get is the proper recognition for the wonderful fighter that he is. Now that we know what we know about Jones, let’s let that rot away with the rest of his integrity and focus our attention on the real star that is Daniel Cormier.

NOW CHECK OUT HEYDORN’S PREVIOUS TAKE: The UFC’s arrogance towards Demetrious Johnson and UFC 215 leaves money on the table and a shadow over their history

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