Jon Jones loomed large on Wednesday at UFC 192 Open Workouts as the top four fighters in the division he once conquered took center stage on day one of fight week.
Current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier seemed to be unaffected by the news that Jones reached a plea agreement with authorities in New Mexico in regards to charges stemming from a motor vehicle accident earlier this year – at first. But as he continued to speak on the subject, Cormier’s agitation began to grow before definitively declaring his desire to welcome Jones back to the UFC.
“If there was ever a doubt that I want to get back in the Octagon with that man, please but it to rest,” Cormier said as sweat dripped from his forehead after a 10-minute workout in front of about 100 fans in the Azalea Ballroom at the Westin Houston hotel. “There’s no worry on my end. We’re celebrating on this side.”
More on UFC 192: Relieved Cormier ready to defend crown | Gustafsson overcomes setbacks for title shot | Outside the Octagon: Focus should be on here and now, not Jones | DC, Gustafsson talk prep for 192 | Hendricks sets sights on reclaiming title | Homesick Rodriguez focuses on bright future | VIDEO: Gustafsson on what he learned from losing | WATCH: Hardships mold Cormier | WATCH: DC analyzes his fight vs. Jon Jones | WATCH: Rankings Report | Get your UFC 192 tickets | Pre-order the PPV now
Cormier’s opponent Alexander Gustafsson said he has no opinion on the situation, but like DC, he too would like another crack at the former pound-for-pound king.
“I just hope that he’s getting better and he’s learned from his mistakes,” Gustafsson said. “[I hope] that he comes back to the division so I can beat him too.”
Earlier in the card on Saturday night, former champion Rashad Evans returns after almost two years battling knee injuries to take on top contender Ryan Bader in what many have called a title eliminator bout.
But with the potential return of Jones, Evans said he never looked at this fight that way.
“I kinda knew he was always going to be back in the mix. Everybody was talking about title implications and things like that [but] I knew Jones would come back,” Evans said. “So I didn’t really get it in my head that this was going to be the one that got me a title shot. I was just thankful for whatever came my way.”
Bader has been calling for a title shot for a while. He took it to the next level by calling out Cormier after his win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 187.
When his name wasn’t called, he said that he just accepted it and moved on to the next one. He isn’t thinking about Jones or Cormier now. For Bader, Evans is the target.
“I can worry about that after, but right now I have a one-track mind on Rashad,” he said.
The one thing that brings all four of these men together is that Jones has beaten them all. Now the former champion faces arguably his toughest challenge yet when he returns to this firing squad eager to call themselves the king of 205.
Cormier is ready whenever Jones is ready.
“We’ll see when the UFC clears him and we’ll see when he wants to fight,” he said. “We don’t know what he’s been doing these past few months, but if he’s been training – so be it.”