Daniel Cormier was going to be removed from his status as light-heavyweight champion one way or another by the end of UFC 232 tonight after Jon Jones fights Alexander Gustafsson for the belt, but rather than waiting for the UFC to take the title from him he’s decided to take matters into his own hands and relinquish it.
“Today I am going to relinquish the UFC light heavyweight title,” Cormier wrote in a statement to ESPN. “I am not going to be stripped of the belt that I’ve defended with my all for three and a half years. Being stripped of a title suggests you’ve done something wrong, and I haven’t.
“I’d rather walk away this way, with my head held high as it always has been, than have the history books say I was stripped. I’ve defended this title this year. I was approached with the idea of fighting at heavyweight, so I took it. I fought three times in 2018. No champion has been more active than me. I am the fighter of the year. My story and my legacy will not include me being stripped of a title. They can have it.”
Later Dana White spoke out on the situation and insisted that DC would always have gone down in the record books as having vacated the title rather than being stripped of it.
“He hates Jon Jones, so he is overly dramatic about all of this situation right now, because of the hatred that he has for this man,” White told ESPN. “He wasn’t being stripped of the title. The title was being vacated. Vacated and stripped are two completely different things. Of course Daniel Cormier wouldn’t be stripped of anything. He was vacating the title. He couldn’t defend it. And that’s it.
“I love the guy. He hates Jon Jones. Jon Jones hates him. And I would expect nothing less than him being on a rampage like he is right now.”
Meanwhile, Jones has also given his thoughts on Cormier’s decision.
“It’s up to Daniel Cormier to challenge me to get his belt back,” Jones said on FOX Sports 1. “I heard that he ended up relinquishing his belt, and I think that’s a good look. But at the end of the day, I know most people know that he never was the champion. Hats off to him for being the heavyweight champion of the world, but I’ve been the light heavyweight champion since 2011. That’s just facts. That’s just facts. The belt was given to him. He has not beaten me. So, he can cancel all doubts by challenging me and really being a legit champ champ.”
Jones also went on to reveal that he has no intention of challenging Cormier for the heavyweight strap.
“Nah, no. He looks good at heavyweight. He’s designed to be a heavyweight. He’s comfortable there. He naturally goes to heavyweight between every fight. That is his spot, and like I said, he makes a great heavyweight champion. Even before fighting me, he was on a tear at heavyweight. That’s his zone. I have no reason to challenge him at heavyweight, because for me it’s not personal.
“When he comes down to light heavyweight, it’ll be personal again. And he can have what he has, I’ll have what I have, and that’s being the most dominant light heavyweight champion, the only light heavyweight champion since 2011.”