The “who is the greatest fighter of all time” debate has been raging in the MMA community ever since UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov extended his professional record to 29-0. “The Eagle” defended his title for the third time, defeating Justin Gaethje by second-round submission during UFC 254 on October 24.
During his post-fight interview, Nurmagomedov asked the UFC to place him No. 1 on the official male pound-for-pound list, and on the following Tuesday, the Russian surpassed former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones for the top spot.
Since then, fans and analysts have debated over who the “GOAT” is between Nurmagomedov and “Bones.”
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier chimed in on the debate. He has a history with both fighters. “DC” is a longtime teammate and friend of Nurmagomedov and the former two-division champ has fought Jones twice. Cormier lost via decision in their first fight at UFC 182.
DC and Bones were scheduled for a rematch a UFC 200, however Jones was pulled from the card days before the event after testing positive for cocaine. They rematched at UFC 21 and Cormier was knocked out in the second round. However, Jones tested positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol and the fight was subsequently overturned to a no contest.
It was determined by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that Jones did not knowingly take the banned substance.
Cormier believes that because Jones has a history of testing positive for banned substances, he shouldn’t be considered the GOAT. In fact, he believes that Jones shouldn’t even be considered in the conversation for the greatest ever.
“One of the most talented guys you’ll ever meet but again for me bad [drug] tests eliminate you from the conversation,” Cormier said via MMA Fighting. “I just cannot understand how that is so hard to comprehend in a sport where we’re fighting each other. In baseball, bad tests eliminate you from being considered and being in the Hall of Fame and you’re hitting a ball. You’re hitting an object that has no feeling. In fighting, you’re punching people, human beings, and you have bad tests that eliminates you. It’s just too dangerous.
“So I think when you start to think about the greatest of all time for all the things and all the great victories, you can’t look at those, me personally being a guy that those fights did really long term damage to my career, it’s hard for me to say [Jon Jones] is the greatest of all time when every time we fought, there was some sort of issue. That for me, it just kind of changes the conversation.”
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Cormier Compared Steroid Use in Baseball to MMA: ‘Possibilities of Damage’ Much More Severe in MMA
During the interview, DC said that baseball legends like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa tested positive for steroids and have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“You hit a baseball, the baseball has no feeling,” Cormier continued. “You’re hitting it with a bat and look how they treat Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Look at how they treat those guys in that sport. You know what’s crazy about that, too? In baseball they treat Barry Bonds and them like that and it wasn’t even illegal. There was no rule that said those guys couldn’t take steroids and look at how they treat them. Look at how they treat them.
“Jones was having bad tests while we had USADA and people still want to place him at the top of the all time greatest list. That’s crazy. It wasn’t even illegal in baseball in the late 90’s and those guys are hitting homeruns freaking 50 yards longer than they ever have. It’s just a different sport obviously, but it just seems like the possibilities of damage are just so much more severe in mixed martial arts. For anyone, even Anderson [Silva]. Anderson was the man. Bad tests, I don’t care if it’s for viagra, it does not matter. It’s a bad test. Bad tests in a combat sport where you’re punching people, just not right. It eliminates you.”
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DC Compared Jones to the Likes of Nurmagomedov and Demetrious Johnson
Cormier gave a nod to former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who has also been in the GOAT conversation for years. He believes that fighters like “Mighty Mouse,” Nurmagomedov, former middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and former welterweight and lightweight champion BJ Penn should be above Jones and Silva in the debate as they haven’t tested positive for a banned substance.
DC also said that Jones and Silva never had to take a banned substance because of their natural talent.
“It sucks, too, cause they’re so immensely talented,” Cormier said. “So talented that I don’t think any of those guys ever needed to do anything wrong and would have been clean. Like Khabib’s clean. Nobody has heard or suggested or thought that he’s done anything negatively outside of missing weight when he was on his way up. Those are the things that he is going to have to deal with in terms of negatively. Demetrious Johnson is actually completely clean. No missed weights, no failed tests, he’s just clean.
“Those are the types of guys you look at and say ‘that guy’s the greatest fighter of all-time.’”
Jones Tweeted Hours After DC’s Interview Was Published, Takes Aim at Cormier
Bones has adamantly defended his place as the greatest fighter and the current No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. And later on Monday, hours after Cormier’s interview with MMA Fighting was published, Jones took to Twitter.
He wrote, “With USADA you are guilty until proven innocent unless you are the goat. When you’ve been winning this damn long, you remain guilty, it helps people sleep at night.”
He continued, “People will remember I was accused of steroids, they will also remember that I was proven innocent and able to continue with my career. #Facts.”
Bones then directly took aim at Cormier, tweeting, “DC you lost your last fight and then quit the sport. Talk about being eliminated from the conversation.”
A few hours later, Jones was back tweeting about Cormier, writing, “Naysayers will always try to discourage you from having something they can’t have. DC is a standup guy but he will never be considered one of the best at anything.”
Bones continued, “A man who fell short now sits back and talks about what I can’t do, hilarious.”
A fan then tweeted to Jones, writing, “He’s trying to cash in with another L.”
Bones responded, “I’ve lost many times throughout life, but the fierce competitor in me won’t let me go out with an L. Honestly that’s what I will remember most about DC. quitting on his fans, the sport, his legacy with an L.”
Another fan asked Bones a question, writing, “Do you feel the same about Anderson Silva?”
The former light heavyweight king answered, “No, Anderson fought back from a gruesome leg injury. Success defeated DC.. The man would rather have Popeyes chicken. Remaining at a high-level is not for everyone.”
He continued, “Getting back up after being knocked down is a very hard thing to do. It’s easy to quit and just talk from the sidelines. DC has absolutely no leverage to talk about who is going to be a goat or not #facts.”
The next day, Cormier responded to Jones’ comments. He wrote, “Dummy, after I lost to you, while you were on PEDs mind you, I won back the 205 title, then won the HW title, then back surgery, then Stipe beat me 2x. Sure sounds like quitting, huh? I’m 41 years old. Let’s see what you’re doing at 41, you loser. I can’t wait.”
Later, Jones fired back at DC, tweeting, “Is that any way to talk to your superior Daniel? By the time I’m 40 I’ll be about five years into my retirement. That’s what happens when you win the big ones. Who knows maybe you’ll be the best high school coach who ever lived, pulling for you buddy.”