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Daniel Cormier is now going to bat for Jon Jones.

The newly minted UFC light heavyweight champion today thanked fans for their support and urged them not to beat up on Jones (21-1-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC), who was stripped of the belt after confirmation of his failed drug test at UFC 214.

“I have never felt so much love,” Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) wrote today on his Instagram account. “It’s crazy because this all happened when I lost. Guys now I call upon you to take a breathe, lay off of Jones. Let him and his team figure out what’s going on and what happened.

“I was down and some may have kicked me but the majority of you showed compassion and love. After the fight Jones showed compassion, regardless of what has happened as humans we must show compassion. Jon is not on this ride alone, remember this man has a family. Let’s respect that. You don’t show ur support for me by hurting others.”

After knocking out Cormier in the third round of UFC 214’s headliner, Jones seemed to turn over a new leaf with his longtime rival. He didn’t exit the fight with an obscene gesture or mock Cormier’s tears. Instead, he thanked Cormier for being his biggest foil and motivator.

“He has been a model champion, a model husband, a model father, a teammate, a leader, and I aspire to be a lot more like that man,” Jones said moments after his win. “Unfortunately we were opponents, but outside of that, he is a true champion for the rest of his life.”

That was before both of their lives were completely upended – again – by another Jones failed drug test.

Reeling from his sudden reversal of fortune, Cormier said Jones’ UFC 214 positive was “very emotional” and said he didn’t know what to think anymore about Jones.

“I can’t believe we are going through all of this again,” he said in a prepared statement. “We will see what happens next.”

When the UFC decided to strip Jones of the belt, however, Cormier struck a more critical tone, defending the promotion’s move. He also admitted money was a factor in accepting the belt.

“People will say stuff like, ‘Well, you got handed the belt,’” Cormier said. “He cheated, and the reality is, for me to say I don’t want this title when I was going to be in championship fight anyways, financially it’s just a big difference if I don’t fight as the champion as opposed to fighting for a vacant title. I’m taking the belt.”

Now, Cormier is taking the high road as Jones prepares to mount another defense for why he failed his second USADA drug test. As Jones’ prominent anti-doping attorney Howard Jacobs has indicated, the ex-champ didn’t knowingly ingest any banned substances for UFC 214. It’s the same argument from a failed test at UFC 200, which ultimately led to a one-year suspension.

This time, Jones will need a pretty good defense to keep him from a potential four-year ban from USADA.

Whatever the ultimate verdict, Cormier wants his followers to respect Jones.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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