While Jon Jones continues to "soul search" in the wake of his latest legal fiasco, which cost him his Light Heavyweight title and ability to compete for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Daniel Cormier is taking his victory laps.
Cormier now holds the 205-pound belt that "Bones" was forced to vacate thanks to a submission win over Anthony Johnson in the main event of UFC 187 last weekend (watch video highlights here). No one, though, has forgotten about Jones -- the pound-for-pound best prior to his suspension -- including Cormier, who emphatically advised him to "get his shit together" moments after he hoisted the belt into MGM Grand Garden Arena's rafters in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Enough time, according to Cormier, could change that feeling. Cormier was recently a guest on FOX Sports 1's "America's Pregame" to talk about the "asterisk" next to his name.
"Jon Jones disqualified himself from competition. I didn’t, Anthony Johnson didn’t, Ryan Bader didn’t. None of us ever did. Jon Jones took himself out of the game — he checked out. He got two technical [fouls] in game five of a seven-game series and he can’t play through the last two games. We are fighting for the UFC championship and I accomplished my goal. I wish I would’ve had to beat Jones to win this belt, but he checked out and took himself out of the game. We didn’t do it. Jon’s got some bigger issues than even worrying about fighting. He has to figure himself out on a personal level. The legal process will run its course and then we’ll see what happens. I don’t know how long Jon is going to be gone for, but as time passes people will accept that I’m the champion or if someone beats me they are the champion. Because with time, everyone forgets about anyone else. In 1993, 1994, the Houston Rockets are the NBA champions … not because Michael Jordan didn’t play. Michael Jordan checked out for two years [to play baseball] and the Rockets were the champions. Jon Jones checked out, he checked out of the game."
Cormier brings up a great point -- UFC can't stop and wait for Jones, even if he's the promotion's most talented and brightest star. He was seemingly on a path of personal destruction and UFC -- right or wrong -- wanted to put its best public relations foot forward.
But, no one ever forgot about Jordan. And likewise, no one will ever forget about Jones. Both are transcending luminaries in their respective sports, once-in-a-lifetime talents who "checked out" in their athletic primes.
The good news is that Jones will eventually return to the Octagon. And company president Dana White already stated that he will receive an immediate opportunity to reclaim his world title his first fight back.
Whether or not he can win a championship upon his return, like Jordan, remains to be seen.