Daniel Cormier is going to have to wait a while to get his hands on Jon Jones.
While the former Olympic wrestler-turned-mixed martial artist and the reigning light heavyweight king were set to collide at UFC 178 on Sept. 27, Bones suffered an injury during training camp and was forced to withdraw from the fight. The news broke Tuesday on Fox Sports 1, and this turn of events puts the freeze on some serious heat built up between the two fighters as of late.
Last week during a two-city press tour for their showdown in Las Vegas, Jones and Cormier came to blows during a routine faceoff. The scuffle dominated headlines across the MMA media landscape and instantly made their upcoming 205-pound title tilt the most anticipated fight of the year.
But with Jones now nursing an injury and the fight projected to be pushed back to UFC 182 on Jan. 3, the hottest scrap of the year has lost its pulse for the time being.
And while DC is undoubtedly disappointed, he hopes the delay will help fans focus on what will happen inside the cage and not the grudge that exists between the two men on the outside.
Following the report of Jones' injury, the AKA staple talked to America's Pregame about having to wait to have his shot at the pound-for-pound great:
I think people recognize that it’s a big fight. I think by January, people will understand, and maybe people will stop thinking about us fighting on stage or getting caught cussing each other when the cameras were on.
You’ve got two of the best fighters in the world competing for the light heavyweight championship, so maybe it will let some of this time die down, people worrying about the stuff outside the cage and focus on the fact that in 37 fights, Jon Jones has not lost two rounds combined. But in terms of fan interest, people were excited about this fight, and I’m glad that they’re still going to get the fight.
With the matchup off the radar for a while, Cormier will now have time to give some attention to a lingering knee injury.
Following his dominant win over Dan Henderson back in May, the Louisiana native revealed he had been dealing with a partially torn ACL that he was going to have surgically repaired when the next shot at the light heavyweight title was going to Alexander Gustafsson. But The Mauler suffered an injury of his own and was forced out of his rematch with Jones, which caused the UFC to tap the former heavyweight-turned-205-pound contender.
With his long-awaited title shot in hand, the 35-year-old decided to put off the corrective surgery until after his bout with Jones because the scheduled recovery time would keep him from competing on Jan. 3.
Outside of his own physical situation, upon hearing the news of Jones' injury, Cormier was concerned the Swedish striker would jump back in to replace him in the title picture. But once the UFC brass confirmed that was not to be the case, Cormier turned his thoughts to wishing the current champion would have battled through the injury and toughed it out to face him:
I would be outside of myself to not say I went into this fight knowing my knee was pretty jacked up, and I was going to fight through it to get a title. I’ll get a full training camp now. When I heard Jon was hurt, now him and Gustafsson are on the same schedule in order to be healthy. So my first question was, "I don’t have to go behind Gustafsson again now, right?" And I was assured that it’s going to be me in January. He’s not going to take my place again.
I don’t know the extent of his injuries, and if it’s really bad, I’ll take it back. But on the surface, I heard he hurt himself. But people hear ACL, they think you’re out for a year. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve been training. I wish he would have just fought. I’m saying tough it out sometimes. Sometimes you’ve got to go in there and tough it out and just fight.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.