Despite all of their past drama, even Daniel Cormier can admit that fans are witnessing a rare, once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent every time Jon Jones steps into the Octagon.
For the most part, the former Olympian has maintained a relatively objective view of the UFC light heavyweight champ. Back in August 2013, he told MMA Fighting that he only praises Jones’ fighting ability and the things he’s accomplished, not his personality.
There was once again plenty of praise to go around on Saturday night, following Jones’ remarkably one-sided victory over Glover Teixeira at UFC 172.
At the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White claimed Jones turned in his “best performance” yet and is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. Cormier echoed White’s opinion during a random Q&A session on Twitter.
There has been talk in the past about Jones possibly moving up to the heavyweight division for a superfight with Cormier’s teammate, UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. During the UFC 172 media conference call, Jones made it clear that he plans on extending his stay at 205 pounds, due to a growing list of contenders.
But if he ever decided to make the leap, Cormier is fully confident the 26-year-old phenom has all the tools necessary to find success at heavyweight. He even made the bold claim that Jones was good enough to defeat a prime Fedor Emelianenko.
Emelianenko, who went undefeated for a decade, is widely considered the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
Whether Cormier’s comments are seen as bold or complete blasphemy, he is paying Jones the highest compliment with that prediction. He truly believes Jones would have defeated Emelianenko in a fight, but Velasquez, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
Fresh off his win over Teixeira, Jones will soon be heading back through another grueling training camp in preparation for his highly anticipated rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, likely slated for later this year. Fans are really getting behind the Swedish boxer, who came within a round of dethroning Jones last September. Will the second time be the charm?
Cormier certainly doesn’t think so, according to comments he made on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting):
No chance (Gustafsson beats Jones). Let me rephrase that. I'm not saying he doesn't have a chance. I'm just saying that if I had to bet my money, or if I asked 10 people who wins this fight, nine out of those 10 people would say Jon Jones, because honestly, I believe that he's better because he has more tools.
When you look at Jon on paper against a lot of people, he seems to match up well against every single one of us. He seems to hold the advantages against every single one of us. It's the intangibles. It's the things that you can't measure on a piece of paper that it's going to take to beat Jon Jones—the things that I believe I hold in spades.
Cormier can keep his cards close to his chest for now.
He is scheduled to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 173, and Jones still has to get past Gustafsson. For years, fans and analysts have pondered the extent of Cormier’s talent. There’s no doubt he’s a world-class contender, but is “DC” a future UFC champ?
Assuming the fight against Jones does come to fruition, it could only be a matter of time before the world finds out.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.