Cormier, Johnson, respond to criticism

That is largely because former champion Jon Jones, who held the belt for the last four years, was stripped of his belt and indefinitely suspended for his alleged role in a hit and run accident last month.

In fact, some fellow UFC fighters have even referred to Cormier and Johnson as potential 'paper champions', hinting that you can't call yourself the champion unless you beat the champion.

Speaking during Wednesday's UFC 187 media conference call both fighters responded to some of the negative feedback they have received in recent times.

"Jon cast such a big shadow in the division. So, any time this weight class gets discussed, there is going to be some mention of Jon Jones. So, it's expected," Cormier said. 

"Obviously for me, as I wasn't expected to fight for the championship. Anthony was already scheduled to fight for the belt, so he is obviously just getting what he was already promised when he beat Alexander Gustafsson. 

"If anybody that should be asked the questions if the belt is real, it should be as I just fought for it and lost. He (Johnson) is only getting exactly what he was already promised after he earned it. It's not his fault something happened to his opponent outside of the Octagon that was so big that the fight couldn't go forward. 

"It's not annoying for me because it's expected. If I was Anthony, I'd be a little annoyed because I'm only fighting for what I was promised for beating the No. 1 guy."

As for Johnson, he believes Jones' situation is entirely his own making and feels that he deserves a shot at the title regardless.

"As far as me, it does get a little annoying because people aren't showing the respect Daniel and I deserve. It's almost like they see as some chumps or something like that," Johnson said.

"Once again, we didn't make Jon do what he did, that was his own doing. We are athletes; we are top of the food chain right now and it is what it is. So, it does get kind of aggravating when people say, 'Oh you are the paper champ.' Things like that.

"In my eyes, in my heart, whoever wins this title isn't the paper champ. We are the absolute champion of the weight class, we are the best. So it can get aggravating. 

"But, at the same time, people are going to say whatever they want regardless of outcome. So just keep moving forward and keep doing my best. I try not to pay attention to it, but it does get aggravating."

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