UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (pictured) said he was feeling “very devastated” after UFC president Dana White informed him late Wednesday night that interim light heavyweight champ Jon Jones had been pulled from Saturday’s epic rematch for potentially violating the anti-doping policy.
It’s a rematch that’s been 18 months in the making, mostly due to Jones’ felony hit-and-run arrest three months after their initial encounter at UFC 182. Cormier said his entire life had revolved around avenging the lone blemish on his resume, and just like that, that opportunity evaporated like a fart in the wind just three days before showtime.
From a competitor’s standpoint, it’s understandable why Cormier is disappointed. He put in the less-than-glamorous work in the gym to get his body in prime condition and stuck to a strict diet to ensure he would clock 205 pounds at Friday’s weigh-ins. Now all that dedication is for naught.
Speaking of getting nothing, Jones’ potential drug violation also cost Cormier the biggest payday of his career. Cormier, like Jones and a handful of other UFC fighters, gets a piece of the pay-per-view pie for each event he performs in. UFC 200, with it’s deep roster and addition of WWE superstar Brock Lesnar, was expected to topple UFC 100 for the company’s top PPV spot.
That’s a big chunk of change Cormier just lost out on, and the 37-year-old knew it immediately after Lesnar’s participation was announced.
“Hey Brock, is it Christmas time in the Cormier household? Because Brock Lesnar equals pay-per-view buys,” Cormier said on “The MMA Hour” of his text conversation with Lesnar. “He didn’t respond, and then finally after the [new UFC 200] commercial ran, I got a response from Brock that said, ‘Merry Christmas, DC!’”
If UFC 200 was to be Christmas, Jones just Ebenezer Scrooge’ed the Cormier household.
UFC president Dana White said they are trying to find a last-second replacement to face Cormier on two days’ notice in order to keep him in the historic event. However, a Michael Bisping or Gegard Mousasi, who have each volunteered their services, isn’t anywhere near as blockbuster and won’t attract nearly as many eyeballs as the sequel with Jones.
It is unknown if the UFC will still pay Cormier if he’s removed from the card. Regardless, his show money is peanuts compared to a PPV percentage.
This is the biggest available fight for Cormier, and if Jones is found guilty, he could be suspended for two years. At 37, Cormier will never make the kind of cash that Jones just cost him. Competition is one thing, but money is a bigger thing. Especially in a professional sport where serious coin is very hard to come by.