Three years ago, then-UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (pictured) revealed he couldn’t stand it when fans asked him to autograph replica belts. It appears Jones feels the same about authentic UFC interim belts.
With UFC 196 coming apart at the seams, after Cain Velasquez withdrew from the main event with a lower back injury just 13 days before showtime and heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum reportedly pulling out the following day because he didn’t want to defend his crown against Stipe Miocic on last minute notice, Jones responded to a fan who requested the UFC arrange Jones vs. Miocic for the heavyweight interim title in the February 6 show.
Jones was down, but only if the “interim” tag was removed.
“If it was for the actual title I would totally do it,” Jones stated on his verified Twitter account.
Now, here’s what’s interesting. Jones came under heavy fire from fans and thrown in UFC president Dana White’s doghouse back in August 2012 when he refused to defend his light heavyweight belt against an out-of-shape Chael Sonnen on eight days’ notice after opponent Dan Henderson was forced out of their scrap with an injury.
The UFC was subsequently forced to cancel UFC 151, the first time they had ever done so since Zuffa, LLC purchased the company back in 2001, much to White’s dismay. White was “disgusted” with Jones for not manning up to accept the challenge and bail the UFC out of a tough spot.
Now that Jones has been reinstated by the UFC following April’s arrest for felony hit-and-run, he is staring a guaranteed shot to reclaim his throne against light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier dead in the eyes. Taking that into consideration, as well as Jones’ previous reluctance to compete in championship affairs on short notice, it’s interesting to see Jones would be willing to face Miocic at UFC 196.
Furthermore, while Jones has stated he intends to move to heavyweight in the future, particularly since he’s been hitting the weights hard the past several months, the 28-year-old has never fought at that weight before in the UFC. And it’s not like Miocic is some can who just fell off the turnip truck, either.
Werdum just captured the belt in June and inked a million-dollar UFC contract extension in December, so it’s highly unlikely the UFC would strip him of the gold. Then again, Werdum just pulled a Jon Jones and White could be just as irate with him as he was with Jones three years ago, so you never know.
Who woulda thought. Jon Jones, the ultimate company man (on his terms, of course).