The Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier rivalry could easily be one of the most heated ones in recent MMA history. Their two fights were both fueled by bad blood and genuine hatred for each other.
Nowadays, both men are more upfront in showing each other some respect.
Cormier recently spoke with MMA Fighting and admitted that he’d always put Jones the fighter in high regard.
“I do respect him as a competitor,” Cormier said of Jones. “I never said I didn’t. That’s where it gets all confused when they talk about this thing between him and I. I never not respected him as a competitor. It was all the other stuff I had a problem with.
“I never did that. If you’re an honest guy, which I try to think I am, you tell the truth. You can respect a person for their skills. I do respect those skills.”
Cormier acknowledges that a friendship isn’t likely happening with his once fierce rival. But he is giving credit where it’s due.
“The reality is when you’re in the octagon — this guy I was in the octagon with over 40 minutes — if you can’t respect a person in that capacity when you’re done with them, then who can you respect?” Cormier said. “I do respect Jones in terms of what he does as an athlete, what he’s been able to do and all those things.
“The reality is like you said, it doesn’t have to be a friendship and it won’t be.”
Jones shares the same sentiment.
“I respect D.C. I think he’s an outstanding man,” Jones said on Steve-O’s “Wild Ride!” podcast in June. “I think he represents himself very well. I think he represents African-Americans very well. He represents the UFC very well. Being a father, being an athlete, he’s very well spoken, he’s a great commentator.”
Cormier is currently preparing for what’s likely the final fight of his career against Stipe Miocic at UFC 252 on August 15. Jones, meanwhile, is still the undisputed light heavyweight champion, despite previous calls of release from his contract and the relinquishment of his title.