Jones has been on the sidelines since he successfully defended the light heavyweight gold against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020. Despite an impressive performance from Reyes, “Bones” was awarded the nod on the scorecards. The win marked his third defense since winning the title for the second time with a win against Alexander Gustafsson in 2018.
Believing he’d accomplished everything he could at 205 pounds and cleared out the top contenders in the division, Jones sought a fresh challenge: championship glory in a second division. But after a public despite with the UFC over pay, a potential clash with heavyweight champion Ngannou fell through and the GOAT contender was away from the Octagon for the entirety of 2021.
Nevertheless, Jones’ bulk to heavyweight has been ongoing, and he now looks primed to make his divisional debut this year. In the minds of most, Jones will likely challenge the winner of next weekend’s unification fight between Ngannou and interim titleholder Gane.
Jones’ former rival Cormier fully expects him to make his first appearance at heavyweight this year and believes he deserves to dictate the weight classes’ title picture. However, “DC” doesn’t expect the former two-time undisputed champ to defeat the elite in the division.
During a recent episode of his ESPN show DC & RC, the former heavyweight and light heavyweight king, who knows a thing or two about achieving two-division glory, claimed Jones’ layoff would play a major factor in fights against Ngannou and Gane, two names he doesn’t think Jones can beat.
“I believe that Jon Jones will fight at heavyweight and he’ll fight for the belt, but he’ll lose to Ciryl Gane or Francis Ngannou,” Cormier said. “I just think that the time away, with the weight difference, and those guys being who they are, that’s the problem. It’s not that Jones has gotten worse; it’s just that these guys are a different level of heavyweight.” (h/t MMA Junkie)
Bisping’s Opinion Differs From His Broadcast Colleague’s
One man who clearly disagrees with Daniel Cormier’s take is his fellow UFC color commentator Michael Bisping. Responding to the remarks in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, “The Count” suggested Cormier’s comments may have been “skewed” due to his bitter rivalry with Jones.
“He (Cormier) came out today and made a statement that said, ‘Jon Jones will never become the heavyweight champion…’ I think I gotta disagree with Daniel Cormier here,” said Bisping. “Because he does know him, and because they have that history, and because they don’t like one another, I believe that maybe that’s skewing the judgment of DC just a little bit here.”
For Bisping, given that Jones is one of the greatest of all time and still under the age of 35, the recent layoff won’t play a massive part in his performances when he returns. Despite admitting the two titleholders at heavyweight are phenomenal fighters, the Englishman doesn’t believe Jones can be counted out given what he’s accomplished in his career to date.
“We’re talking, regardless of his behaviour outside the Octagon, and regardless of the steroid test… the reality is, if you look at the performances, he’s potentially the greatest of all time,” added Bisping. “He’s beat everybody at their own style. He would make a point of doing that, he would beat them at their very own style. He’s not even 35 yet, so there’s no way he’s going to show up ‘old.’
“Ciryl Gane is unbelievable, Francis Ngannou is unbelievable, they’re gonna fight next weekend, I don’t know who’s gonna win that fight… But still, Jon Jones is out there. Jon Jones has a resume. Jon Jones is one of the best to ever do it. So to say that he can’t come back after all this time and beat those guys, I don’t think I agree… To say he has no chance, I don’t think that’s right,” concluded Bisping.
With any luck, Jones’ return will remain on track and either Bisping or Cormier will be proved right in the coming months. No doubt the victor of that debate will be eager to rub it in when they share the commentary desk after Jones’ return.
Who do you agree with, Michael Bisping or Daniel Cormier?