Someone finally meets their match in tonight’s Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier match.
Cormier, freakishly strong, wins by bringing his opponent down. Jones, freakishly long, wins by keeping his opponent at bay.
At least that’s convention wisdom, and Jon Jones warns against falling for it. “I love the fact that people assume that if Daniel takes me down,” the champion explained on the UFC 182 conference call, “he wins the fight.”
Bones insists he has a plan for everything. But he plans on keeping it secret until tonight. “Keys to the fight for me is to just go out there and do what I’ve always done,” Jones vaguely explains. “Just to be myself—confident, young, fast, athletic.”
Cormier lacks the youth, quickness, and athleticism of his opponent. But he overwhelms him in the category of confidence, a trait not to be confused with arrogance or cockiness. Cormier carries himself as a man of destiny. “I think it boils down to belief, man, belief that this can be done,” he maintains. “I have a lot of belief in myself and I have a lot of belief in this matchup.”
Jones strangely talks himself to a position of superiority, which comes off as an indication of insecurity. “Honestly, I’m so secure in my abilities as a fighter,” Jones—beware of the truthfulness of statements prefaced by “honestly”— maintained on Monday’s conference call, claiming to harbor “no insecurities when it comes to my skillset.”
He shouldn’t. He can wrestle and throw unorthodox punches, elbows, and kicks and end a fight with submissions as well as strikes and pick apart an opponent by using his length and grind an opponent down by using knees and elbows against the cage and overwhelm with superior athleticism. In other words, he can do everything.
But in trying to get into Daniel Cormier’s mind, Jon Jones hints that Daniel Cormier occupies sizable real estate in his head. Jones behaved somewhat deferential toward Lyoto Machida, eager toward Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and bored toward Glover Teixiera. Here, the champion acts as though a challenger in his physical aggression at this summer’s press conference and in his constant passive-aggressive barbs promoting the fight.
“There’s no point to that anymore,” Cormier reasoned about overheated words during the conference call on Monday. “It serves no more purpose.”
But the truce proved fleeting. At the UFC’s fighter meetings after Friday night’s weigh-in, Jones and Cormier sparred verbally yet again.
Like the live-camera that captured the two swearing at one another once the red light turned off, the backstage spat demonstrates the degree of dislike between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. Does it also betray a degree of insecurity on Jones’s part?
“The fight is here,” Cormier notes. “There’s nothing that can be said to change the outcome of this fight. The work is done. The camps are over.”
The outcome appears tough to prejudge. The hype evokes the wisdom of a past judge: “Let’s get it on.”