Just when UFC 173 was starting to get good on Saturday night, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta detracts us by telling ESPN.com that Alexander Gustafsson had signed to rematch light heavyweight king Jon Jones (pictured) on August 30.
They were to collide in Las Vegas, either at Mandalay Bay Events Center or the larger MGM Grand Garden Arena.
One significant factor missing from ESPN.com’s article was the fact Jones had yet to agree to the tango. What really confused fans was when the UFC regurgitated the exact same information for their own article on UFC.com and proceeded to tweet it to their 1.9 million followers.
ESPN.com is not at fault, because they simply relayed the information they got directly from a head honcho’s mouth. However, UFC.com’s piece led fans to believe it was a done deal since it was on the company’s official website.
It’s not like the UFC to write a piece on just one fighter agreeing to a bout, with a specific date lined up. They leave amateur stuff like that up to us “blogger” websites. Was the UFC trying to publicly pressure Jones into taking the fight?
Well, not exactly. As it turns out, the UFC just signed Gustafsson to a contract extension and they are currently working on one for Jones. That’s why Jones isn’t able to ink the bout agreement just yet.
“We didn’t announce it,” UFC president Dana White said of Jones vs. Gustafsson II. “I said we’re shooting for August 30. That’s the date we want for Jones-Gustafsson.
“We just signed Gustafsson to a new deal, and Jones is getting a new deal, too. We’re doing a new deal with [Jones].”
If the UFC and Jones can’t come to terms in time to meet the August 30 deadline, White said there’s still the possibility of moving the rematch to Gustafsson’s backyard in Sweden. So, there’s still some pressure for Jones to sign sooner rather than later.
One thing’s for certain, with Renan Barao losing for the first time in nine years last night, Jones’ bargaining power couldn’t be higher. He’s now the game’s unquestionable pound-for-pound king, the UFC’s most decorated light heavyweight champion, highly marketable with Nike and Gatorade as his sponsors and he’s only 26.
Time for Jones to bank some “Anderson Silva money.”