Hate is the new love.
This axiom is especially true in the troll and trash world of social media and sports entertainment. Although they have only fought once, Daniel Cormier and Jon “Bones” Jones have been through a roller coaster of emotion, leaving us all a bit anxious to see how it plays out again inside the octagon.
So when their July 29th matchup at UFC 214 was announced back in June, fight fans collectively sighed that there was finally a date to quell the wait. What might not be known to many is why these two hate each other so much in the first place. A confluence of personal credos, entitlement, underdog status and hubris has amounted to bad blood that is not contrived at all and will be very vicious this Saturday.
WATCH- The Shadow League’s “UFC 214 Bad Blood- Jones vs. Cormier”
Bad Blood- Jon Jones & Daniel Cormier UFC 214
Jon Jones is the poster boy of athletic privilege by no fault of his own. He was born and raised in upstate New York in a family of athletic standouts. He wrestled and played football in high school, where his coach gave him the name “Bones” to describe his skinny frame. His brothers Arthur and Chandler both won Super Bowl rings in the NFL.
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After winning a JUCO national championship as a wrestler at Iowa Central Community College, Jones decided to quit school and pursue a career in MMA full-time. It was a decision that would not only present his athletic purpose, but would also change the light heavyweight division of the UFC forever.
Jones finished his first five opponents as a professional, four in the first round and one in 14 seconds before being called up to the UFC. When he made his debut at UFC 87, defeating Andre Galvao via unanimous decision, his nascence showed a glimmer of something larger about to happen.
The generation of young guns like Anthony Pettis and Demetrious Johnson were beginning, and Jones was the budding era’s front runner. His only loss came from a destructive finish of deaf MMA fighter Matt Hamill, where his lethal elbows crashed down in a spiking motion that was ruled a loss instead of a no contest. The brutality was surreal and the fear of his growing physical power was solidified.
The Chip on Cormier’s Shoulder
Daniel Cormier is the product of pain. Adversity, horror and triumph have all forged this man into a champion, but it comes at an emotional cost.
Cormier is from Lafayette, Louisiana and witnessed the unimaginable trauma that stems from losing your father to a gun violence at eight years old. He won two national JUCO wrestling championships at Colby Community College in Maine and later became a Division I All-American at Oklahoma State University.
He graduated with a degree in sociology and went on to become a two-time Olympian. He became a professional wrestler in the Real Pro Wrestling league where he met fellow standout Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal, who he inspired to become a professional mixed martial artist.
Cormier lost his daughter in a car accident in 2003. It was the second time that tragedy struck him hard and it seems to be what propels his fortitude in these larger than life athletic battles he now wages.
Standing only 5-foot-11 in a league of taller men, he defied all odds in defeating Josh Barnett and winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, along with a mounting body count of tough heavyweights like Frank Mir and Roy Nelson.
It was assumed that after dropping weight classes and defeating Dan Henderson at light heavyweight that he would pose a formidable challenge to the then eight-time defending champion, Jon Jones.
No one really knew that Jones and Cormier didn’t like each other until their fight was announced. More attention had been paid to Jones’ beef with his former teammate, Rashad Evans. But their seemingly ideological and lifestyle differences painted the picture of the privileged young northern champion in Jones versus the southern,grounded, hard worker mentality of Cormier.
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Cormier, who is eight years older, rightfully feels that Jones’ status and image based on real and imagined dominance should still pay homage to his experience. Jones, as a typical young gun, will never do such, for an admission of admiration would be akin to totally scraping his aura of confidence.
It all came to a head during a promotion of their first pairing, when Jones nudged Cormier with his forehead during a photo opportunity at UFC 178. Cormier choked/pushed Jones in retaliation. The ensuing fight was epic, rowdy and a true testament to their hatred. Jones had to pay a $50,000 fine and perform 40-hours of community service for the incident.
UFC 214 Free Fight: Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier 1
Before the long-overdue rematch set to take place at UFC 214 on July 29 between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, check out the rivals first battle at UFC 182 in 2015. Order UFC 214: https://www.ufc.tv/video/ufc-214
At UFC 182, Jones carried the unanimous decision victory with his dominance in the later rounds. Jones kept the belt and Cormier experienced his first professional loss. Jones was not gracious in victory and Cormier would forever seek to avenge the loss.
Since that 2015 fight, Jones has been on a tear of incidents that have kept him out of the octagon and further fueled Cormier’s disdain for him. From cocaine usage, hit and run car accidents, canceled fights to suspension, a lot has happened to Jones in two short years. His reputation has been besmirched, his belt has been stripped twice and the whole time he has had to watch Cormier’s stock rise as not only the light heavyweight champion, but as a commentator and bonafide UFC star.
Cormier is looking to even the score and stay champion. Jones, who feels that Cormier’s belt is not legitimate since he was stripped of it and not beaten, wants personal redemption.
It is the perfect storm of controversy, real animus and divisional power in a new UFC with unlimited resources and audience reach.
For the preacher’s son who wanted the party to accompany the titles and got too close to the flames of the limelight, this fight is about killing his biggest detractor, an opponent who judges him daily with a moral compass based in struggling.
Cormier has always had to be perfect since he came from such imperfection. For him, the underdog is always the champion because adversity sears limitless determination in his heart.
Jones is athletically gifted, no one can ever deny that. Cormier is a winner who knows how to beat the physical odds when the lights are brightest.
The question and test for both men will be who will harness the chip on their shoulder effectively to find a way to win.
Will Jones utilize his supersized confidence and ability correctly while not underestimating his rival’s determination? Or will Cormier frustrate Jones into making mistakes?
These questions and more will be answered in this masterpiece of a fight, which like John Coltrane’s jazz masterpiece, A Love Supreme, marries faith with love and creativity.
In this rematch, both men will need to do so in spades.