Daniel Cormier had zero control over the circumstances surrounding UFC 200 -- and he's intent on not allowing that situation repeat itself.
The UFC's light heavyweight champion says he would not accept a fight against Jon Jones, even if Jones is able to avoid suspension for failing a drug test earlier this year. The failed drug test resulted in Jones being pulled from last month's UFC 200 headliner in Las Vegas.
Jones (22-1) is currently facing potential sanctions from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). The 29-year-old has expressed optimism on social media, however, saying he will be able to fight "soon." UFC president Dana White has also alluded to a quick Jones return.
Should that be the case, Cormier (18-1), who suffered a five-round unanimous decision loss to Jones in January 2015, says a rematch between them can wait.
"The stance I'm taking right now in regards to not fighting him allows me to take control of my career and my life again," Cormier told ESPN's “Five Rounds” podcast. "I didn't expect that whenever we fought the first time... I didn't expect my entire career to be hijacked by Jon Jones, but that's what it feels like for me.
"I've fought three times since I fought Jon. I won the belt, defended the belt, fought Anderson Silva -- and everything is still about Jon Jones. I don't want that to be my career. I don't want that to be my reality. This gives me an opportunity to get off that ride."
Jones has not yet appeared before the NSAC to defend the presence of anti-estrogen substances in his system. His management has hinted at a potential defense based on a contaminated, but legal, supplement. Under the UFC's anti-doping policy, Jones could also receive a lesser penalty if USADA finds Jones had a low degree of "fault."
Cormier, 37, said no part of him wants Jones to be suspended for a long time, but said he doesn't find it difficult to properly alert USADA of the substances he takes. Whatever conclusions the NSAC or USADA draws on Jones' case, Cormier said he'll accept as truth.
"Even if it was something taken mistakenly, in our USADA forms, we have to tell everything we take," Cormier said. "That is just the truth. It's not that hard to really know what you're taking and putting into your body.
"All I'm gonna do is believe what is said to be true. I'm not gonna waste my time anymore with conspiracy theories, all this other stuff. I'm not doing that. I don't want to be tied to such negativity. There's so much negativity when it comes to Jon and I fighting. If they say he took a tainted [supplement], whatever. It is what it is."
Cormier said he'd like to fight again in December, but the landscape of the light heavyweight division is unclear due to the uncertainty regarding Jones. White told "UFC Unfiltered" this week he's considering a No. 1 contender fight against Jones and Anthony Johnson (22-5), who is coming off a knockout win at UFC 202.
Johnson, however, has already expressed interest in a title shot. Johnson was supposed to fight Jones at UFC 187 in May 2015, but Jones was pulled from that card as well after he was arrested on a hit-and-run charge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cormier actually replaced Jones and submitted Johnson in the second round for the vacant UFC title.
"We find ourselves in a weird situation," Cormier said. "I don't necessarily think Anthony wants to fight Jon. He feels like he's earned the title shot and I've said time and time again I will not fight Jon. I think the horrible taste Jon has left in everyone's mouth in regards to his place in the division -- it almost makes him a pariah. None of the best guys want to fight him because they don't feel they can trust him.
"Anthony and I have been on the receiving end of two of the harshest things Jon has ever been in. Me, on three days notice, UFC 200, biggest moment of my career, trying to get back that loss [and Jones is pulled]. Anthony, three weeks before his first title shot, ends up fighting me and losing when he was preparing for Jon. We've both been burned before by him and it's hard to really trust him in that sense."