Fighting Words: I feel bad for Daniel Cormier right now
The former champ has been reinstated, and I still feel bad for him.
And new, and still, and still. Former. Oh wait never mind, and still.
That is the championship timeline for Daniel Cormier since winning the vacant belt in 2015. Did you have your seat belt on for that ride? I bet Daniel didn’t.
For the third time in his professional career, again-former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been stripped of his title. Jones had just won the title from Cormier at UFC 214 in July when he popped for steroids. The California State Athletic Commission overturned Jones’ win Tuesday to a no-contest, meaning Cormier now has his gold strap back.
So, why do I feel bad for him? Let me explain.
Since the first time Jones got stripped of the title in 2015, Cormier has been on MMA fans bad side. Jones and former title challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson were set to meet a few months later at UFC 187 when the incident occurred. This resulted in Jones losing his belt for the time in his career, literally to himself. Cormier, who has lost to Jones at UFC 182, stepped up to face Johnson for the vacant title. He submitted Johnson in the third round and became the 205-pound champion.
From that day forward, fans referred to Cormier as a “paper champ”. A common phrase for a champion who did not beat the champion to get their title. To make it even worse, he has earned his only career loss to Jones less than five months earlier. The timeline of events made fans reluctant to accept him has their 205-pound king.
From then on we saw Cormier defend his title successfully twice. It could of been three but of course Jones had another incident 48-hours prior to UFC 200, resulting in Anderson Silva to save the day and face Cormier in a non-title bout.
Even with letting down fans twice, the MMA community refused to dislike Jon. Still, Cormier was just a paper champ and the respect would not be given until he defeated Jon.
Finally, he had the opportunity at UFC 214. Cormier lost his title to Jon, and added another loss to his professional record, courtesy of his bitter rival. We saw a super emotional Daniel in the octagon that night, coming off a third round knockout moments earlier. Many expected him to retire, but he promised he’d be back.
Did anyone think that meant he would be back as champion? Put your hand down. You didn’t see this coming and neither did I.
A month later, Jones got busted for steroids in a test taken the night of the weigh in. As I reviewed earlier, Daniel is now back as champ. But he didn’t win it from Jon, and he knows it.
What is the best move for Daniel Cormier now?
Go. Full. Heel.
You heard me (okay, well read me).
We saw a glimpse of Cormier channeling his inner WWE character after his second win over Johnson at UFC 210. The crowd boo-ed him like I’ve never seen done to a champion. He embraced the hate and we loved it. And as hard as it may be for him after such a devastating loss, he is the champion again and he needs to make the most of it.
Going on his third incident in three years, the odds of Jon getting less than a 3-4 year suspension is unlikely. While he is still young, Cormier is nearing 40. Unfortunately, these numbers add up to never seeing a trilogy between these two champions. Two champions that gave us one of the biggest rivalries in MMA history.
This could be a rebirth for the 205 division and a much needed one at that.