After Daniel Cormier withdrew from his fight with long time rival Jon Jones at UFC 197 due to a leg injury, several names were mentioned as possible replacements. One of those names was Anthony Johnson, who's currently 12-5 in the UFC and 21-5 all time. Unfortunately, Johnson couldn't accept the fight due to dental work he just had done.
Eventually, it was Ovince Saint Preux that got the call and will square off against Jones in an interim title bout at UFC 197. White spoke to ESPN's "Sportscenter" about his call with Johnson and how OSP ended up becoming DC's replacement.
Obviously, the number one choice would be Anthony Johnson, who is the number two ranked guy in the world and a fight that everybody wants to see, but Anthony Johnson just had surgery on his mouth and can’t even put a mouthpiece in for at least three weeks. So, as you go down the line, other guys have fights set up. …Rashad Evans is fighting the week after against Glover Teixeira. So he already has a fight. Plus Rashad Evans is ranked number seven, Ovince Saint Preux is ranked number six. So, number one versus number six makes the most sense.
Jones recently appeared on the The MMA Hour and questioned Johnson's story. During that interview, Jones suggested that Johnson originally accepted the fight and then backed out a couple of days later, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Johnson took to his Instagram account to explain.
Everybody’s hitting me up now, all of my friends, saying that Jon is throwing me under the bus or whatever. I never accepted the fight with Jon. The UFC hit me up and asked me about it, but they didn’t know anything about that I had dental work done. I had four screws put in my jaw, Ok? So why would I accept a fight and then say, ‘No, I don’t want to fight him?’ That’s stupid. I have more sense than that. So, either the UFC is telling this man the wrong thing, or somebody’s not telling the truth somewhere in between. Because I got told something different and now I’m hearing Jon is being told this. So, I don’t know. It is what it is.
I never said OK to the fight. I never said, ‘Yeah.’ So, I just want to let you guys know what the deal was and hopefully we get to the bottom of it because something’s not right. Him being told that I accepted the fight and I never said it. Like I said, I heard something totally different as far as coming from his camp. I heard other things. It is what it is.
Johnson seems determined to find out what really happened because clearly there's a level of miscommunication on the UFC's part. Not surprising as there also seems to be an issue with the Miesha Tate-Holly Holm rematch that isn't happening.