Cormier: Jon Jones beating Ciryl Gane is not deserving of a 2023 ESPY nomination

Jon Jones is in the running for a 2023 ESPY Award for best MMA fighter of the year, but a former rival disagrees with the nomination.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 3 months ago

The line-up of nominees for the 2023 ESPY Award for best MMA fighter includes reigning heavyweight champion Jon Jones. “Bones” joins the list along with current champions Leon Edwards and Islam Makhachev and recently-retired former double-champ Amanda Nunes

But for rival Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones isn’t deserving of such an accolade just yet. In a recent episode of his weekly ESPN YouTube show with Ryan Clark, he explained why. 

Cormier says Jones isn’t deserving of ESPY yet

As he told Ryan Clark, Jon Jones’ win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 in March isn’t enough for an ESPY nomination for best fighter of 2023. 

“I just don’t know if one fight in the year against Ciryl Gane puts you in that position,” said Cormier (quotes via MMA Junkie). 

“And that’s no knock on Ciryl. It was just one fight. You gotta think of the storylines that follow these other athletes. From Makhachev beating ‘Do Bronx’ to win the belt, from Makhachev beating Alexander Volkanovski. …

“Then you look at Amanda losing her belt to Julianna (Peña) and then winning it back. Then Leon Edwards doing what he did.”

Cormier believes Jones made the list because of star power alone

Jones’ heavyweight title win put him in the conversation of all-time greats. UFC president Dana White, for one, has been touting the former longtime 205-pound champion as his inarguable GOAT.

But for Cormier, Jon Jones’ superstar status could be the reason for his inclusion, which for him doesn’t hold up. 

“Jon Jones is in there because Jon Jones is the biggest star,” Cormier said of his former rival. “He’s the biggest star that’s holding a championship right now outside of Israel Adesanya. 

“That’s why he’s in there. What’s crazy about it is, he might win it because of him being the biggest star of the people in there.

“I think Jones needed one more performance to find himself in the running for an ESPY. The storyline just doesn’t add up.”

‘DC’ agrees with Jones’ other ESPY nomination

Jon Jones is likewise nominated for a comeback of the year award. The 35-year-old fighter came from a three-year hiatus, which he says he spent bulking up for then-undisputed heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. 

Cormier agrees with this nomination more. 

“I agree with that: Jon Jones best comeback athlete, yes. I’m all in on that. Three years away, comes back and becomes the heavyweight champion of the world, absolutely, yes.”

What’s in store for Jon Jones’ future

If it were up to him, Jon Jones would fight former champion Stipe Miocic for his first heavyweight title defense. He is looking at it as a possible retirement fight, which he intends to happen at Madison Square Garden in his home state of New York. 

But there are talks about a possible hybrid fight with boxing champion Tyson Fury, a conversation ignited by commentator Joe Rogan. It’s a matchup that the UFC is already considering. 

“I’m telling Tyson Fury, who I respect very much: If you really want to find out who the baddest man on the planet is, I will make that fight,” Dana White said in a media scrum ahead of UFC Vegas 74. 

“I will make Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury in the octagon. And we’ll figure it out. We figured out how to pay Floyd (Mayweather), we’ll figure out how to pay you too, Tyson.”

After UFC 285, Jones immediately shot up to the top of the men’s pound-for-pound rankings. His current record stands at 27-1 (with 1 NC).

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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