Dana White will not budge on his decision to pull Irish superstar Conor McGregor from UFC 200 and the reason why may rest with Jon Jones.
The former light-heavyweight champion returns to the Octagon Sunday morning (UAE time) at UFC 197 after a 15-month battle with drugs and legal trouble.
‘Bones’ will take on late replacement Ovince St. Preux, who stepped in after current 205lbs belt holder Daniel Cormier was forced to withdraw with a shin injury, for the interim strap.
And should, as he is expected to, come through the bout unscathed, he’s not ruled out the possibility of becoming the landmark July 9 card’s main event.
“Absolutely,” said Jones when asked if he would rematch Cormier at UFC 200. “I’d totally step in and fill in that main event.”
Their rivalry has festered since Jones’s offhand remark to Cormier saying that he could take down the former two-time Olympian back in 2010.
It’s escalated from there and their narratives finally converged last year as Jones bested Cormier in January 2015. But when he dropped the ball – and his belt – Cormier was there to scoop it up and has made the title his own ever since.
You would think then, that 11 months spent watching his adversary parade around with the belt would be a source of frustration for Jones. Wrong.
“I guess it’s a little more motivating but it really doesn’t bother me,” Jones told FOX Sports.
“I’m really aware of everything that’s happened. I took myself out of the competition being a knucklehead and I gave DC an opportunity of a lifetime to finally capture that belt. Because outside of the fact that I don’t like him, he’s really not a bad guy. Watching him, he makes a really great champion.
“He has a clean image, he seems like a family guy who works really hard and everything like that so me not being in there, you’d like to see a guy like DC have the belt.”
Of course, Jones’ grace towards Cormier could only last so long.
“Apart of me in a weird way,is happy that he got the opportunity,” he added. “But now he’s had it long enough, I hope he enjoyed it. It’s time to pay his rental fee and get that a** whooped when I finally face him. Maybe at UFC 200.”
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