Legacy: A word that has been mentioned countless times when discussing both Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones before their scheduled bout at UFC 200. There was a stark contrast between the legacy of both men and an undeniable motivation for each fighter to beat each other at UFC
200 to cement their legacy's in different ways.
For Jon Jones it was clearly about taking back all the land that he conquered. For years, he has been the guy, the unstoppable champion that dismantled all title contenders in his path to greatness and showed no signs of slowing down. When Jones was emerging as a contender in the UFC's Light Heavyweight division nobody seemed to be able to keep a hold of the coveted championship belt. It was constantly changing hands. The once famous division had not seen a dominant champion since the era of Chuck Liddell and nobody could have predicted Jones' rise to the top.
He spectacularly claimed the belt with a one sided beating of former Pride legend Shogun Rua and in doing so he broke the record for youngest ever UFC champion, it was then people started to take notice. Countless accolades ensued, he was the first man and only man to finish Rampage Jackson inside of the octagon and through defending his belt multiple times he holds the records for ‘ most submissions ‘ , ‘ longest win streak ‘ , ‘ most successful Light Heavyweight title defenses ‘ and ‘ most wins ‘ in the UFC's Light Heavyweight division.
Even with the iconic displays that Jones regularly showed, his legacy will forever be tarnished because of the things he does outside of the octagon, indiscretions that only now seems to have finally turned the fan base against the superstar. Unfortunately, multiple controversies outside of the octagon are etched onto his legacy and always seem to be brought up whenever fans discuss him. Jones is constantly being ridiculed for testing positive for cocaine prior to UFC 182. The Hit-and-run incident of April 2015 really irked the fans and lead many people to question his character as a human being. The cancellation of UFC 151 is another incident that fans remember about Jon Jones and now the out of competition drugs test he failed just days away from UFC 200, for oestrogen blockers ( According to Chael Sonnen. ) which are commonly used for people cycling off testosterone and using the oestrogen blockers to prevent physical side effects such as Gynecomastia.
As of right now, his legacy is in ruins. People will soon forget the warrior spirit he displayed against Vitor Belfort when his arm was severely hyper-extended, they will soon forget his heroic display in the championship rounds to defend his belt against Alexander Gustaffsson and few will remember the dominance he showed when facing Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 to retain his title, he will be remembered as the one who let it all slip away.
Daniel Cormier on the flip side seems to have lost his only chance at redeeming his defeat to the hands of Jon Jones and cement his legacy as the true Light Heavyweight champion. Jon famously said that he had no doubt about Daniel beating everyone else in the division but he couldn't beat him and now it seems there's no real way to prove it.
Inside the octagon, he has displayed the heart of a champion multiple times. Cormier was a former Olympian so he had a high level of combat experience when he got the call to compete in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix of 2011. Although he was a massive underdog, that didn't stop him demolishing Jeff Monson, Bigfoot Silva and Josh Barnett in his conquest for glory. Shortly after, he was signed to the UFC as a Heavyweight and went 4-0 ( 2 – 0 in Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight ) before finally getting a title shot against Jon Jones.
Everyone who saw the fight knows he was beaten in the cage by the better man on the night but it was how he rebounded that impressed everyone. Just four months after his defeat at UFC 182, Daniel Cormier filled in for Jon Jones and defeated dangerous knockout artist Anthony Rumble Johnson to win the UFC Light Heavyweight strap. Cormier faced adversity in the opening round when he ate a huge punch from Johnson that sent him flying across the octagon but he immediately got to his feet and grinded Johnson, eventually winning by a rear naked choke.
Next up was Alexander Gustaffsson who was similar in stature to Jones. We could see clear improvements in Cormier's distance control and effectiveness in the clinch. It looked to be a routine defence of his title until he ate a huge knee and was dropped. Again, he displayed true heart and courage when he got to his feet and put a beating on Gustaffsson en route to a split decision win and retaining his belt. The Jones rematch was announced and we all sat in awe and waited for UFC 200.
I'm sure you all know how the story went, Jones tested positive and Anderson Silva was drafted in as a last minute replacement and this was Cormier's chance to put out a marker that he's the baddest man in the division and his legacy does not revolve around Jones. Instead, we got a lacklustre performance. A truly disappointing display which saw Cormier content with taking Anderson down and sitting in half guard throwing strikes from the top. The fans quickly let their feelings be known with a cry of boo's from the crowd. Jones got crucified for his performance against OSP at UFC 197 so it's only fair Daniel got the same for his performance against Anderson Silva at UFC 200.
With all due respect to Anderson Silva, he's 41 and had gallbladder surgery two months before and had virtually no training in the build up. People can say he had the advantage in the stand-up but welterweight Nick Diaz had no problem standing with Silva and I'd argue that Cormier's arsenal on the feet is a lot more versatile so it was disappointing to see that he didn't put out a statement to anyone who questioned the validity of his legacy as the champion right now.
Will the two top dogs of the Light Heavyweight division paths cross again? We surely hope so.
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