Daniel Cormier won’t be able to defeat Jon Jones at UFC 197, but the injured light heavyweight champion wants to help the fighter who took his place accomplish that task. One thing Cormier has already accomplished is furthering the war of words between himself and Jones.
In the wake of a leg injury Cormier suffered during training, one that forced him to withdraw from defending his title against Jones (21-1-0), unheralded Ovince Saint Preux (19-7-0) was tabbed to take his place on short notice (UFC 197 will be held April 23). Cormier was already set to be an underdog against Jones, who was the light heavyweight champion before legal troubles caused the UFC to strip him of his title last year, and now the latter will be a heavy favorite against Saint Preux.
However, Cormier invited Saint Preux on Monday to come to his gym and train, all the better to spring the upset. “I don’t mind playing spoiler,” Cormier told Fox Sports. “Ovince Saint Preux needs to know that not only me but every other guy at the American Kickboxing Academy are ready and open to open those doors in trying to help him accomplish his goals. Get trained by the best team in the business.”
Cormier also extended that invitation on the “MMA Hour” (via Bloody Elbow), saying, “I don’t care what happens in the future — I can’t train with Ovince, but I’ve got a guy named Cain Velasquez that can train with him, I’ve got a guy named Luke Rockhold that can train with him, I’ve got a guy named Chi Lewis Parry, I got a guy named Frank Munoz. We’ve got everything in place where he can just take my training camp for the next few weeks.”
“I’ll be one of his coaches,” Cormier added. “Listen, nobody wants to fight Jon Jones worse than I do. So, if I can live through Ovince on April 23rd, I will live through Ovince on April 23rd.”
It remains to be seen if Saint Preux takes up that offer, but it certainly got the attention of Jones, who tweeted this to his 1.2 million followers:
“I believe he’s legitimately hurt. I’ve heard a lot of fans calling him out for being scared and he’s a faker and whatnot,” Jones told Fox Sports on Monday. “I believe he’s hurt, but I also believe deep down inside that he’s grateful to not be fighting me in three weeks.
“I think somewhere deep inside, he’s really enjoying the thought of being able to relax, train at his own speed and know that he’s still going to be the champ for at least a few more months now,” Jones continued. “That’s how I feel about him.”
Cormier also took to Twitter on Monday to tell the world how he felt about being called out by Jones. In a series of tweets, he blasted Jones for, among other things, allegedly ducking Chael Sonnen, who was set to be a late injury replacement for Dan Henderson at UFC 151 before Jones declined the fight, and he called his rival a “junkie.”
Jones, widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA, defeated Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015, but the result was somewhat tainted by Jones’s positive test for a trace element of cocaine. Jones lost his title and was handed a lengthy suspension following a hit-and-run incident in April, after which Cormier defeated Anthony Johnson for the vacant UFC light heavyweight crown, subsequently defending it against Alexander Gustafsson.
“I have no animosity toward him,” Jones said of Cormier to Fox Sports, “but I feel like I’m chasing him a little bit at this point to get back what’s mine.”