Following his one-sided victory over Dion Staring at Strikeforce’s final event last Saturday, Daniel Cormier made his UFC intentions perfectly clear.
First calling out former UFC heavyweight king Frank Mir for an April 20 showdown at UFC on Fox 7, Cormier next turned his attention to light heavyweight ruler Jon Jones.
“I’m going to let Jon defend his belt on April 27, and then I’m going to kick his ass in the fall,” Cormier said.
Responding to the comment on Tuesday’s episode of “UFC Tonight,” Jones said he welcomed a meeting with the 238-pound American Kickboxing Academy standout, who would need to cut down to the 205-pound light heavyweight limit in order to challenge “Bones” for his belt.
“I think the guy is a tremendous athlete, and I wish he would just do it and stop talking about it,” said Jones. “I’m open to fighting the best guys in the world. That’s why I’m here.”
Prior to any meeting with Cormier, however, Jones must first deal with former two-time middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen, who returns to light heavyweight for the first time since 2005 to challenge Jones at UFC 159.
Sonnen made headlines last fall for offering to take a short-notice fight with Jones at UFC 151 after Jones’ original opponent, Dan Henderson, pulled out of the main event due to a knee injury. Though the card was ultimately canceled after Jones declined the last-minute pairing, the resulting fallout prompted the UFC to cast the men as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17, which debuts Jan. 22 on FX.
Though Jones says his initial impression of Sonnen was a negative one, his opinion of the verbose veteran was altered after spending time with his opponent during the filming of “TUF 17.”
“I realized that Chael is really good at putting on an act, and when he’s not acting, he’s actually a pretty solid individual,” said Jones. “I’m glad I did have this time with Chael, because my thoughts of him were pretty brutal before. He’s redeemed himself a little bit with me.”
As for the 42-year-old Henderson, Jones believes the former two-division Pride pacesetter still deserves to be included in the UFC title discussion. Henderson returns to the Octagon on Feb. 23 at UFC 157, squaring off with former champion Lyoto Machida a co-main event that likely holds serious title implications for both men.
“I would love it for Dan Henderson to get back into title contention. I don’t think he ever really left title contention. He just had an injury,” said Jones. “With the momentum that he has had going for him, I think it’s only fair to give him a shot at the title. Me and him have unfinished business. Ultimately, that’s up to Dana [White] and those guys, but [Henderson] has my OK to be in there.”