Daniel Cormier: Jon Jones ‘smart’ for going after Alex Pereira over Tom Aspinall

Daniel Cormier doesn’t fault UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones for mentioning Alex Pereira’s name. In fact, he would have done the same thing.

Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC) expects to return against Stipe Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC) for his first title defense later this year. Interim heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall awaits, but Jones appears to have other ideas.

Jones called a potential fight with light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira (10-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) the biggest fight in MMA history, and Cormier thinks there’s a reason why he said that.

“He’s smart,” Cormier said of Jones on his ESPN show “Good Guy/Bad Guy” with Chael Sonnen. “If I’m an Olympic wrestler or a national champion, and I’m watching the landscape of things, valuing the money vs. the fame, vs. the championships and everything else, I’m doing exactly what Jon’s doing. I’m saying to myself, ‘I’ve been in there with the most scary, dangerous men in the world. I have been in there with extremely well rounded guys, with tremendous kickboxers, with super heavy punchers. I’ve been able to manage that. But who I haven’t been in there with is a guy that is a straight kickboxer.’

“While he has improved tremendously in his grappling, no one would ever say that’s Alex Pereira’s strength. His strength is his striking, and he can knock you out. … Not everybody hits like Francis Ngannou or Alex Pereira, but if you can get away from that and manage that, it’s much less risky than fighting a guy with a full skillset, that’s complete. That’s exactly what Tom Aspinall looks to be. So I love what Jon is doing in terms of being smart, finding the right matchup. I don’t know that it’ll fly.”

Cormier sees Pereira doing the same thing by targeting a rematch with Jiri Prochazka over Magomed Ankalaev.

“Give a tip to the cap to the champion,” Cormier continued. “The champ goes, ‘Hey, I think Jiri Prochazka is next. Ankalaev is going to have to wait.’ Smart! Alex, why would you fight Ankalaev? He’s going to try and wrestle you. Go fight the dude you’ve knocked out already.

“These athletes are much smarter today than they were before, and I believe it makes for the sport to be even more interesting. I love it. I love what Jon is doing, I love what Alex is doing, but I think Jon is choosing, ‘I’m not fighting Tom Aspinall!'”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie