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UFC rival Daniel Cormier wants Jon Jones removed from ‘Best Fighter’ ESPY Award

UFC 235: Jones v Smith Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

Newly-crowned UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who strangled top contender Ciryl Gane into submission at UFC 285 to secure the strap back in March, was recently nominated for two ESPY awards, including Best Comeback Athlete and Best UFC Fighter.

Longtime rival and former UFC two-division titleholder Daniel Cormier supports a nomination for the former but not the latter, insisting Jones has not done enough during the 2023 voting period — compared to his MMA peers — to warrant the distinction.

“I just don’t know if one fight in the year against Ciryl Gane puts you in that position,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC” (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “And that’s no knock on Ciryl. It was just one fight. You gotta think of the storylines that follow these other athletes. From (Islam) Makhachev beating [Charles Oliveira] to win the belt, from Makhachev beating Alexander Volkanovski.”

Cormier and Jones have a long (and rather ugly) history dating back to the World MMA Awards more than a decade ago. In addition, Cormier was criticized for his handling of Jones’ victory over Gane while working the UFC 285 commentary table.

“DC” failed to defeat “Bones” in a pair of light heavyweight title fights.

“Then you look at Amanda (Nunes) losing her belt to Julianna (Peña) and then winning it back. Then Leon Edwards doing what he did. Jon Jones is in there because Jon Jones is the biggest star. He’s the biggest star that’s holding a championship right now outside of Israel Adesanya. That’s why he’s in there. What’s crazy about it is, he might win it because of him being the biggest star of the people in there. I think Jones needed one more performance to find himself in the running for an ESPY. The storyline just doesn’t add up.”

ESPN’s 31st annual award show airs July 12 at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

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