Daniel Cormier is already dealing with critics who say he became the champ, but never beat the champ.
After finishing Anthony Johnson at UFC 187, Cormier fielded questions that asked if he felt like he’s the legitimate champion of the UFC light heavyweight division. Cormier, as expected, answered in a what-do-you-think manner.
“You see what’s sitting right there?” he asked, pointing at the light heavyweight title sitting in front of him. “That’s a gold belt. That thing’s reserved for the UFC champion.”
Although he beat a game opponent in Johnson in Las Vegas, “Rumble” wasn’t the titleholder going in. The belt was left vacant after previous champ Jon Jones became involved in legal matters outside of the Octagon. So in his win on Saturday, the theory of “to be the champ, you have to beat the champ” started casting a shadow on the MGM Grand.
UFC President Dana White echoed the same during a spot on FOX Sports 1.
“Well, right now he is,” White said, when asked if Cormier is the real champion. “To be the man, you have to beat the man. I absolutely believe in that too. But unfortunately, the man has some problems right now. Daniel Cormier is the man.”
Jones’ problems are not Cormier’s fault. It’s true that the last time he met Jones, he failed in his attempt at earning the 205-pound title directly from the currently troubled fighter. But Jones is no longer in the equation and the fight game must move on while he sits on the sidelines to soul search.
For now, Cormier said he’ll defend the belt he earned, no matter who he beat to do it. And when Jones is ready, Cormier said he’ll be waiting for him.
“I didn’t disqualify myself from competition; Jon did,” Cormier explained. “Jon’s the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, we all know that. But he disqualified himself from this competition right now so I am the champion. I’m very proud of what I accomplished tonight. I fought a very tough guy that deserved to be there.
“It’s not just about being a champion inside of the ring. You have to be a champion in all facets of life. It’s unfortunate, but I believe that he will get his stuff together and then he and I will fight again.”