Jon Jones and the UFC found themselves on trial by media this week. After news broke on Sunday thet UFC 232 was shifting states due to another “abnormal” USADA test, everyone seemed to overlook that the title was on the line this weekend…
BUT officially Daniel Cormier was still the champion. Were the UFC planning on stripping the double champion DC, or was he to relinquish the title ahead of his bitter rival’s comeback?
Daniel Cormier Vacates Belt, Jon Jones Reacts
Either way, the belt would be on the line for Alexander Gustafsson and Jones this weekend. Cormier decided to relinquish the title with the following statement:
“Today I am going to relinquish the UFC light heavyweight title,” Cormier wrote in a statement to ESPN.com. “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.”
Jones and UFC president Dana White each gave their reaction to DC dropping the belt. While “Bones” was typically sarcastic, White said Cormier was being “dramatic.”
“I heard that he ended up relinquishing his belt, and I think it’s a good look,” Jones said on the UFC 232 weigh-ins show on FS1. “I know most people know he was never the champion. Hat’s 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. The belt was given to him. He has not beat me. So he can cancel all doubts by challenging me and really being a legit champ-champ.”
Dana White’s Reaction:
“He’s being a little dramatic right now,” White told MMAjunkie following UFC 232 ceremonial weigh-ins. “He’s being a little dramatic because of his hatred for Jon Jones. He would’ve never been stripped. He’s vacating. … I expect Cormier to be all fired up and on a rampage. He hates this guy.”
“At the end of the day he wasn’t being stripped of the title, he was vacating the title,” White said. “It would never go down in history that he was stripped. ‘I’m going to get stripped and I didn’t do anything wrong.’ I told ‘DC’ a long time ago: ‘If you’re my champion for the rest of my career, I’m good with that.’ He’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever worked with, such a good guy.”