Cormier not interested in a third Jon Jones fight

UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier told ESPN on Monday he does not need to face Jon Jones for a third time before retirement.

Cormier, who defeated Derrick Lewis on Saturday at UFC 230 to retain his heavyweight belt, has said he wants to end his MMA career by the time he is 40. He will be that age in March and hopes his final opponent will be WWE superstar Brock Lesnar.

“I don’t need [the Jones fight] anymore,” Cormier said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “Sometimes you need things and sometimes you don’t. … I’ve come to terms with everything. Because he was gone so much, I had to remove myself from the situation so completely that it almost became not reality.”

Cormier and Jones have one of the biggest rivalries in MMA history.

Jones defeated Cormier two previous times (one of which was changed to a no-contest), the first by unanimous decision at UFC 182 in 2015. Jones was later stripped of his belt after an arrest following a hit-and-run accident that injured a pregnant woman. Cormier replaced Jones and defeated Anthony Johnson for the interim belt.

Jones and Cormier were scheduled to fight at UFC 200 in July 2016, but Jones failed a prefight drug test and was pulled from the card. The two finally had a rematch at UFC 214 in July 2017. Jones landed a head kick in the third round and won by TKO, although the result was later ruled a no-contest after Jones tested positive for Turinabol, an anabolic steroid. Cormier was reinstated as light heavyweight champion and went on to defeat Volkan Oezdemir by second-round TKO in January.

Similarly, Jones told Helwani last month he does not want to fight Cormier again.

“I already have all the marbles when it comes to Daniel Cormier,” Jones said. “I’ve beaten him twice. This game has never been personal. What is personal to me is chasing greatness, not individuals. So in the case of myself and Daniel Cormier, he needs to fight myself one more time if he ever wants to be considered one of the all-time greats. I don’t need to fight him again to be considered one of the all-time greats. I have many more years to prove it.”

Jones is set to headline UFC 232 against Alexander Gustafsson on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas. The bout is a rematch of what some consider the greatest fight ever, a 2013 matchup that saw Jones win by unanimous decision to retain his light heavyweight belt.

Cormier believes he is in the discussion for the best fighter ever. His only official professional loss was to Jones, who Cormier believes used banned substances to win. After years of feeling he would need to defeat Jones for his own legacy, Cormier appears over that notion and is happy to retire without completing the trilogy.

“Can I really trust that he’s going to be back in the game?” Cormier asked. “History shows that there will probably be some sort of issue either before the Gustafsson fight or after the Gustafsson fight. We schedule a fight? There’s definitely going to be an issue because there’s always been an issue.”

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