Daniel Cormier expects Jon Jones to succeed at heavyweight. But for those who think the former light heavyweight champ will run roughshod over the UFC’s biggest division, he invites them to look at the past.
Cormier said Jones “struggled” previously with bigger opponents and could see some tough challenges ahead. Before, “Bones” has to make his heavyweight debut.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Cormier said on Chris Weidman’s Sirius XM podcast. “The guy’s a good fighter. Very talented. I think he’ll do good at heavyweight. But it’s a matter of him making the leap, right? It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for him to fight in this weight class.
“I think the moment he makes the actual jump into the heavyweight division, it will make the division much funner, it will make the division grow, and it’s already as fun as it’s been in a really long time. But just some of the matchups that he could be involved in with Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes, it makes for an idea of some big time fights.”
Jones has added bulk to his frame since relinquishing the light heavyweight title in anticipation of a move to heavyweight. In his previous division, Cormier and the 6-5 Alexander Gustafsson were among the opponents to give him tougher fights, though he still managed to adjust and stop them both in rematches.
Ngannou, Gane and Blaydes all clock in at 6-4 and carry the natural bulk of fighters for their division. Not only that, they have plenty of experience facing heavyweights in the octagon.
When Cormier looks at the competitive landscape above 205 pounds, he sees established and emerging threats such as Sergei Pavlovich. All of them could give Jones trouble, he said.
“Watching Pavlovich, after watching what he did to Tai Tuivasa and everybody recently, there’s some dangerous fights for him, especially when you look back on his light heavyweight career and see how he struggled at times with bigger guys,” Cormier said. “I think he’ll be fun to add, but I think there’s some big-time matchups in there for him.”
Cormier did some of his best work in the heavyweight division before slimming down to light heavyweight, where Jones was his only roadblock to the title. He later moved up to heavyweight and captured the belt from Stipe Miocic after ceding it in a rematch, and he retired after a trilogy loss.
The former two-division champion was asked whether Jones is more beatable than people think. Cormier said Jones’ past with anti-doping violations should “absolutely” factor into his status as an all-time great, but he said the ex-champ’s accomplishments could not be discounted.
“If he’s beatable, why hasn’t anybody beaten him? He’s long, he’s strong, he’s got good cardio, and he’s got a lot of great qualities in there,” Cormier told Weidman. “He’s very smart in the octagon That’s one of the areas I think people don’t give Jones the credit, his mentality and his fight IQ, his ability to process through a fight is better than most, and I think that’s why he’s had the longevity that he had.”