Daniel Cormier believes that Jon Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson 48-47 when they met for the UFC light heavyweight title on Sept. 21 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Cormier, who was seated at cageside that night, said he scored Rounds 2, 4 and 5 for Jones and gave Rounds 1 and 3 to Gustafsson.
Cormier, an unbeaten light heavyweight who is coming off an impressive victory over Dan Henderson last month at UFC 173, also said he believes Jones would win a rematch, should they fight.
But the 15-0 Cormier, who is hopeful of fighting Jones himself, isn't so sure that Jones wants any part of Gustafsson again.
"He had to reach so deep into his soul to win that last fight, I truly believe he doesn't want to fight Alex again," Cormier told Yahoo Sports. "Alex took him somewhere he'd never been before and he doesn't want to go there ever again."
The UFC offered Jones a rematch against Gustafsson at UFC 177 on Aug. 30 in Las Vegas. Gustafsson quickly accepted. Jones has yet to commit.
On Monday, UFC president Dana White told UFC.com that Jones would rather fight Cormier.
Just to clear up a couple things, people think we're in contract negotiations with Jon Jones - we're not. Jon Jones still has five fights left on his contract. So what we're doing right now is trying to get him to sign the bout agreement for Gustafsson. He doesn't want to fight Gustafsson. ... Lorenzo and I have a meeting with Jones on Thursday to get him to sign the bout agreement, and he's asking to fight Cormier instead.
Many fans believe Gustafsson defeated Jones when they met at UFC 165 and, at worst, deserved an immediate rematch. Jones left the arena on a stretcher where he was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary examination.
White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta attempted to make the rematch not long after the conclusion of UFC 165, but Jones preferred to fight Glover Teixeira instead. Teixeira had been on a 20-fight winning streak when he was dominated and beaten by Jones at UFC 172 in Baltimore in April.
Cormier said Jones will look bad and lose respect if he winds up skipping a Gustafsson fight. He admitted that he would benefit in such a scenario because he would then get the title shot.
When a reporter pressed him, noting that there are some who believe that Cormier is a more formidable opponent and that Jones would be taking the tougher match if he picked Cormier, Cormier hedged a little.
"Everybody was screaming for the rematch after that fight with Alex and he said no, that he wanted to fight Glover," Cormier said. "Now, if he comes back and says essentially, 'I don't want this rematch,' how do you think that's going to come across? Once? OK. He said he wanted to fight Glover and everyone knows about Glover. But twice would be hard to understand. I honestly don't think Jon is afraid, but Alex pushed him to a point in that fight where I don't think he ever wants to go again.
"So obviously, this might benefit me in the long run. And if Jon really believes that I would be the tougher fight, then he would be doing it for the right reason. But if he is saying he wants to fight me because he believes I'd be an easier guy? Man, I don't know. That's not good."
Jones will take his time to make his choice. He hasn't allowed the UFC to pressure him into doing something he doesn't want in the past and it's unlikely he will this time around, either.
Whether he is interested in fighting Gustafsson at all remains an open question, because Jones has not publicly discussed the issue.
Cormier is, and he doesn't get why Jones hasn't accepted the bout with Gustafsson even though he, Cormier, would stand to benefit if Jones declines the rematch.
"As the champion, it's his obligation to fight the guy they say is the top challenger, and right now, that is Alexander Gustafsson," Cormier said. "It's been strange. At the end of the day, he'll probably end up fighting Gustafsson again, but this isn't something he's volunteering for, I can tell you that."