It's been an interesting month for former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. He was all set to fight his arch nemesis, Daniel Cormier at UFC 197 later this month, but Cormier had to pull out of the fight due to a leg injury.
Jones also had another run in with the law that almost put UFC 197 in jeopardy. Luckily, Jones was able to come out of that relatively unscathed, although he had to spend a couple of days in jail.
Now, rather then fight DC for the light heavyweight title, Jones is going to fight Ovince Saint Preux for the interim UFC light heavyweight championship. A move that has perplexed some seeing as how Cormier is still an active fighter in the division.
The road to the interim fight at UFC 197 wasn't an easy one. Jones chatted with The MMA Hour this week about the whole ordeal:
Originally, the UFC called me and asked about Anthony Johnson. They said that he had already accepted the fight, and they asked me if I was going to accept the fight. I told them I needed a meeting with my coaches. I had a meeting with my coaches, and the next morning I called the UFC said let's do this thing.
They said that Anthony's camp changed their mind, I guess, since he had some dental work he needed to do.
Jones doesn't buy that though:
That made no sense to me whatsoever, for him to be ready at one point and then the next minute it was dental work. So I just told Lorenzo (Fertitta), whoever you need me to fight, I want to make things right for UFC 151.
I want to do something for my fans, something positive.
I know people who have been saving up months to make it out to Vegas for this fight. I know guys who, this is their anniversary gift or birthday gift from people, and I was like, you know what, I've put my fans through so much already. I need to get out there and just put it on the line. So I said I'll fight anybody. They came up with Ovince.
The idea of an "interim title" wasn't the most exciting to Jones, who was supposed to fight for the actual title.
Initially I felt like I didn't care about the interim title. In my heart, I felt as though I was the champion. I know that I'm the champion. The things that I've been able to do in my career, if I never fight again, I would be able to tell my kids and grandkids that I was a champion, so I feel like a champion.
So when I was offered the interim title, it really didn't do much for me the way it would for most. I want the actual thing back. That was my first feeling: oh, whoop try-doo, an interim title.
Jones eventually came around to the idea.
Then I started to think about it and I thought, you know what, it would make a lot of people proud. (It would make) a lot of people proud to see me with the belt, even if it's the interim title. It would just be something that is really positive around me, and it's a good thing ultimately.
Jones, who is 21-1, was the youngest fighter in UFC history to be crowned in the LHW division.
He's also considered by many to be one of the greatest Light Heavyweight champions to fight in the sport. He's defended his belt eight times, and only lost it when it was stripped from him after his involvement in a felony hit and run. Jones pleads guilty to that charge and was placed on probation for 18 months. Not only was his title taken from him, but he was placed on suspension from the UFC, a suspension that will come to an end at UFC 197.
Obviously, a fight for the actual title is what Jones is after, but he doesn't take the interim fight or Ovince Saint Preux lightly.
I don't look at this as a tune-up fight. I feel ready to go. To look at Ovince as a tune-up fight would be disrespectful to Ovince, who is such an underdog that I think he's more dangerous than ever. The guy has absolutely nothing to lose. So I'm going to treat him not as a tune-up fight, but as another fight, somebody who has his own story, who has hunger and his own ambition.
UFC 197 will take place on April 23 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.