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Daniel Cormier Doesn't Have to Fight Jon Jones Again to Become UFC's GOAT | ONE AND DUNN

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Daniel Cormier of the United States celebrates his victory over Derrick Lewis of the United States in their heavyweight title bout during the UFC 230 event at Madison Square Garden on November 3, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Steven Ryan/Getty Images

You can love the Beatles and you can love the Rolling Stones, but nary a one will tell you that they enjoy both equally. Ultimately, you're a human being with a pulse and presumably a heart and you have a preference. Likewise, you can love DC and you can love Jon Jones, but nobody is allowed to say they have no strong opinion when it comes to anointing MMA's pound-for-pound king. Daniel Cormier and Bones, who have fought twice but seemingly settled nothing between them, are at the top of the heap. And you gotta pick one.

These two may, in fact, be the two greatest fighters the Octagon has ever seen. And ahead of DC's mega-rematch against former heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic Saturday at UFC 241, the 40-year-old titlist is surely thinking long and hard about what it would mean to starch his foe once again -- and perhaps earn the opportunity to retire as GOAT.

Will there be cries for DC-Miocic 3 no matter what happens Saturday in Anaheim? Absolutely, yes. Would a third fight be good business and make for a terrific card? You bet.

But what I don't want to hear anyone insisting is that Cormier cannot be the greatest without a win over Jon Jones.

Yes, Bones handed Cormier his first-ever MMA defeat when they first met in 2015 at UFC 182. It was a unanimous decision, and a successful defense of the UFC light heavyweight title -- one that he relinquished after he ran a red light, caused a hit-and-run accident, and fled the scene. When they fought for the title again in summer 2017, Jones thought he had himself a smashing KO win... until he was yet again stripped of the belt anew after testing positive for PEDs.

To hear DC tell it, you cannot be the GOAT if your career is so intensely checkered by conduct violations and doping. And with that in mind, a repeat win over Miocic is all the big man needs to have the right to call himself the greatest.

Period.

We're talking about an Olympian who won six straight US senior national championships in freestyle wrestling. A guy who, even at the age of 40, is No. 1 in UFC's in-house pound-for-pound rankings. A beast of a man who has never lost a fight that wasn't subsequently branded with an asterisk.

Yes, Cormier has collected an authentically impressive portfolio of scalps, from Frank Mir to Dan Henderson to Anderson Silva to Miocic. He really doesn't have much of anything to prove.

(And for the record, yeah, Bones ain't moving up to heavyweight anytime soon. So we can put this hypothetical trilogy in a shoe box and hide it way up in that top shelf of the closet.)

Jones' superfans -- and there are many -- aren't going to give an inch in the war of rhetoric over who's best. Their guy's never been stopped and has never lost on a decision, his sole career L coming due to disqualification on illegal strikes. He's a freaking legend. He IS the light heavyweight division.

But DC has done it in two weight classes. He did it outside the Ocatagon as a wrestler. And if he strolls into Honda Center Saturday and dusts Miocic like an old bookshelf, he can and should raise a fist, let a single tear tumble down his cheek, and declare himself the best there ever was.

And you don't have to like it.