At least publicly, Jon Jones doesn't appear too worried about losing to Daniel Cormier at UFC 200. He's already defeated the former Olympic wrestler convincingly and the only reason they are fighting again is because Jones was stripped of the title and Cormier won the belt in his absence.
Now Jones is looking to reclaim his belt, following suspension and one return win over Ovince St-Preux.
Jones is so confident that he's sort of treating the Cormier bout like it's a tune-up for something greater. What could that be? Jones wants to fight the one man who nearly beat him, and the one man who some feel was robbed of a decision victory: Alexander Gustafsson.
"Alexander Gustafsson was my toughest fight," Jones said in a recent interview with Champions MMA. "The fight we all need to be talking about is Alexander Gustafsson."
Jones is acknowledging that five-round epic battle that could have gone either way in the decision. It was the first fight where Jones was battered, bruised and nearly defeated. Jones rallied in the in the final rounds to eek out the decision, but not before Gustafsson proved that a long, tall guy like Jones can pose problems for the fighter. On that night, Gustafsson showed that the supposed pound-for-pound best was possibly beatable.
That epic fight from 2013 fight was never rematched. Gustafsson was then knocked out by Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and Jones experienced much personal turmoil outside of the cage. If Jones defeats Cormier, a Gustafsson fight could be right around the corner.
"He is the one who came inches away from winning," Jones said. "That is the fight I will probably lose sleep going into."
Jones said fighting Cormier is like fighting Rashad Evans or Glover Teixeira again. He said he beat all of those guys convincingly.
"Actually, I am just a lot better a fighter than D.C.," Jones said.
He said he even wants to fight Rumble Johnson, the guy who KO'd Gustafsson.
"I feel like fighting Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson are two really big, important steps in my whole story," Jones said.