UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier joined Jim Rome in studio Tuesday on CBS Sports Radio to promote his Saturday night rematch with Jon Jones in Anaheim at UFC 214.
The former champion Jones’ year-long suspension over a United States Anti-Doping Agency violation was lifted so the two fighters can finally square off again to renew their much hated rivalry.
Although Cormier is aware of Jones’ past USADA violation, he said he is still preparing for the version of Jones he fought in January of 2015, and the man who was on the short list of many as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter ever, not the Jones who last entered the octagon in April of 2016 against Ovince Saint Preux.
“I have prepared for the best version of him, like as good as he’s ever been, the guy that beat Shogun Rua way back in the day and made Shogun tap to strikes,” Cormier said. “My thought is the guy we saw against Ovince Saint Preux, the guy that was tentative, a little bit more hesitant.”
Cormier made it clear, it wasn’t Jones’ ring rust that led to his underwhelming victory over Saint Preux but rather the fact that USADA had taken over the UFC’s drug testing program by then, believing the former champ was clean at the time.
“That’s not rust. I looked at the fight, and I said yesterday, that’s as good as he can give,” Cormier said. “This is a new world, before we were all fighting without the United States Anti-Doping Association. We were fighting under some different rules.”
“Now we’re fighting clean. We have to fight clean, all of us, and I believe in the Ovince Saint Preux fight. I told him [Jones] yesterday, you should be proud of your performance, because you got the most out of yourself that you could ever get. That was the best he could ever fight was how he fought Ovince Saint Preux. So don’t rag on his performance, he did fine, he fought to the best of his ability.”
The 38-year-old believes Jones is a very skilled fighter but thinks if he fights without an “edge” it will break him mentally as the fight goes deeper and deeper.
“The confidence is like, oh man, can I really do this? In the third round, am I going to feel like I’d did against Andre Gusmao?” Cormier said. “Or am I going to feel like I did when I was Superman against Shogun, or the fourth round against me when I’m tiring, and he’s getting his second wind.”
“There’s a lot of fighters that will openly admit to doing things in the past, and they say when they had to do it the right way, they never felt the same in their minds, more than physical. Physically, I’m sure he can do anything. He is a good athlete. Physically, I’m sure he can do anything, but let’s see what happens to that mind when I’m pushing him.”
Cormier believes a UFC fighter in today’s era would have to have deep pockets to continue to use performance enhancing drugs to attempt to stay a step ahead of the current drug testing program.
“I feel like the money you need to run from USADA has to be bigger,” Cormier said. “You know, remember the whole Lance Armstrong thing? It took them years, but eventually they caught Lance Armstrong, and they were doing some stuff that was at a different level, and I’m not sure MMA guys have the resources to cheat at that level.”