Following a third-round submission win over Dan Henderson in May, Cormier (15-0) revealed he went into the fight with a torn LCL. Additionally, physicians informed Cormier he had a partially torn ACL, a previous injury he had been unaware of.
Cormier considered undergoing surgery to repair the ACL, but ultimately decided to forgo it. He says he had already made that decision before receiving an offer to face Jones, in place of the recently injured Alexander Gustafsson.
The 35-year-old former heavyweight says he’s not concerned with the knee heading into a fight against Jones, who will obviously be aware of it. Cormier says the reason is that he’s fought with the partially torn ligament unknowingly before and it never affected him.
“With time, the LCL is supposed to heal,” Cormier told ESPN.com. “There’s nothing you can really do for it. I never felt the ACL. It wasn’t the ACL that was bothering me, so as soon as the LCL stopped hurting, I told myself I didn’t need surgery.
“You have to realize the position I’m in. I went in there with the same knee against [Antonio] Silva. I had the same knee against Josh Barnett. I went in with everybody in the same situation. It’s no different. It’s just something I know about now.”
Is he concerned Jones (20-1) will target the knee with kicks, as he’s been known to do anyway against previous opponents? The answer is Cormier isn’t concerned with a single thing Jones does. He’s felt that way for a long time.
“I’ll put my bank account [on me to win],” Cormier said. “I’m very confident.
“This is no gamesmanship: I don’t know if I can beat Rashad Evans. I don’t really know if I can beat Glover Teixeira. But I know, without question, I can beat Jon Jones. It’s just the way we match up. It’s his mentality and my mentality. Everything about Jon makes me think there is no way he can beat me.”
The two have a history, which dates back to what's sort of become a folk story from 2011. There was a (non-violent) "altercation" in Las Vegas. Cormier was still fighting in the heavyweight division at the time.
Both fighters have acknowledged a rift exists, while generally steering away from going into detail. After the fight was announced on Wednesday, Jones privately messaged Cormier on social media, “I hope you’re ready to come to daddy.”
Cormier publicly posted a screenshot of the message. He attempted to respond but couldn’t, as Jones doesn’t follow his account.
“That’s just how he is,” Cormier said. “He’s kind of protecting an image that’s not real anymore because people have seen through it. It’s sort of passive-aggressive, from putting up tweets and deleting them to sending messages to my coaches.
“Is this fight personal? Jon and I have some things outside of the cage that don’t allow us to be friends. We’ll never be friends. But when that cage door closes, it’s business. I don’t let my emotions carry me into a fight.”