No main event? No problem.
While Conor McGregor might claim he’s back on for UFC 200, the promotion’s president, Dana White, has repeatedly said the Irish star won’t fight, due to his refusal to take part in contractually obligated promotional appearances. That was apparently enough to make McGregor’s opponent, Nate Diaz, bail on the July 9 event – since he’s not getting Conor, he’s going on vacation – and left a rather sizable hole atop the card.
So White went out and booked a rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier – two of the sport’s most bitter rivals – for the main event. Because bad blood always sells.
The fight was announced Wednesday on Good Morning America, and will unify the Light Heavyweight Championship. Jones held the belt for four years – his last defense was a unanimous decision win over Cormier in January 2015 – before UFC stripped him of it following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident last year. Cormier then defeated Anthony Johnson for the vacant belt at UFC 187, and defended the title against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192.
Jones and Cormier were originally scheduled to fight for the championship at Saturday’s UFC 197, but the latter dropped out of the bout due to an injury. Instead, the returning Jones fought – and defeated – Ovince Saint Preux to claim the interim Light Heavyweight title. Following the win, Jones shot Cormier, seated ringside, the middle finger, and proclaimed, “it felt good.”
Now, the two – who infamously brawled at a press conference and traded barbs during a subsequent TV interview – will meet to settle their feud and determine the true Light Heavyweight champion. And both fighters are already at each other in the hours since their rematch was announced.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) April 27, 2016
Last week, McGregor turned the MMA world upside down by abruptly announcing he was retiring from UFC, then backtracked and said he was merely lashing out at the company’s promotional schedule, which he claimed had forced him to lose focus while training for his rematch against Diaz. At a UFC 200 press conference last Friday in Las Vegas, White said the brash Irish brawler’s refusal to do press for the event meant he would no longer be a part of it – but hinted he was working on a title match to replace McGregor vs. Diaz.
McGregor would then tweet he was “back on UFC 200,” though White denied it. And on Wednesday, he moved ahead with his plan for Jones vs. Cormier. And, yes, he sounded relieved to be doing so.
“UFC 200 has been, uh, interesting to say the least, putting this thing together,” White told GMA. “There’s been some crazy things that have gone on. Some ups and downs. Jon Jones fought on Saturday night and won…he’s been out for 15 months, and now he’s back, and he wants his Light Heavyweight UFC title back. So the main event will be Daniel Cormier versus Jon Jones.”