UFC Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones has thrown a major spanner in the works by letting the UFC know that he wants to fight Daniel Cormier rather than Alexander Gustafsson, despite the fact that the promotion had already announced their intention to hold the rematch at UFC 177 on August 30th.
“He doesn’t want to fight Gustafsson. … Lorenzo and I have a meeting with Jones on Thursday to get him to sign the bout agreement, and he’s asking to fight Cormier instead,” Dana White reveals on the UFC.com website.
It’s not the first time that Jones has tried to sidestep a fight with Gustafsson. Immediately after their first meeting back in September of last year ended up providing the champion with the toughest test of his career to date Jones appeared receptive to an immediate rematch, but just a few days later opted to fight Glover Teixiera instead.
“I will fight Gustafsson after I fight Glover.,” Jones told ESPN at the time. “I won the fight but I look at it as a blemish on my record because some people think I didn’t. I promise you, he will be next.“
The fact that he now appears to be going back on that promise isn’t likely win him any fans, and it’ll anger Gustafsson who’s been saying for some time that the champion is ducking him.
The reality is that it’s the perfect time to hold this rematch. Given the buzz surrounding their first encounter it’s potentially the biggest fight the UFC could put on at this moment in time, both men have a win under their belts since the last fought, Gustafsson is the current No.1 contender in the official rankings and the two men are even featured together on the cover of the new EA Sports UFC video game.
It’s not that Jones Vs Cormier is a bad fight – it’s actually a great one, but there’s unfinished business here to attend to first and hopefully the UFC will be able to convince the champion to accept Gustafsson’s challenge and help silence his critics.
To that end, it’s worth noting that White has done some backtracking by claiming that the UFC are not offering Jones a new contract despite rumors to the contrary.
“Just to clear up a couple things, people think we’re in contract negotiations with Jon Jones – we’re not,” White told UFC.com. “Jon Jones still has five fights left on his contract.”
All well and good, but it completely contradicts what he said following UFC 173 less than a fortnight ago.
“We just signed Gustafsson to a new deal, and Jones will get a new deal too,” White stated at the UFC 173 post-fight media scrum. “We’re doing a new deal with him.”
So it’s clear that there’s tensions going on behind the scenes between Jones and the UFC and it looks like they are going to hold out on giving him what would presumably be a more lucrative contract for the time being if he doesn’t accept the Gustafsson fight.
Jones is in a position of power though. He’s arguably the biggest star in the sport right now in the absence of others major draws like GSP and Anderson Silva, and he’s clearly embracing that fact and using it to steer his career the way he wants it to go regardless of what the fans and his bosses at the UFC think about it.