Jon Jones stripped of UFC title, Cormier meets Johnson for vacant belt at UFC 187
The UFC has stripped Jon Jones of his light heavyweight title and suspended the 27-year-old indefinitely as a result of his alleged involvement in a Sunday hit-and-run accident in New Mexico.
UFC President Dana White announced the news on tonight’s edition of “FOX Sports Live.”
As a result of Jones’ (21-1 MMA, 15-1 UFC) suspension, recent title challenger Daniel Cormier (15-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) will step in to face Anthony Johnson (19-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) for the now-vacant 205-pound belt in the UFC 187 main event May 23. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
White said he met with Jones and his attorney in Albuquerque, where Jones lives and trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA.
“He didn’t say a lot,” White said. “Obviously, he’s got to handle his legal proceedings. His lawyer didn't say much. We basically went in there – what we wanted to find out was what the facts were. A lot of things are being said out there about what happened that day. A lot of them are untrue. A lot of them are speculation, and we wanted to hear Jon’s side of the story, and we wanted to hear what his lawyer had to say about it.
“Obviously he’s very disappointed. He’s upset. He wanted to go down as one of the greats, or the greatest ever. He’s disappointed, but it is what it is. It’s the decision we had to make.”
On Monday Jones turned himself in and was arrested on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury.
He posted $2,500 bail and left the Bernalillo County Metro Detention Center on Monday night, according to the facility’s website.
Early Sunday morning, a 25-year-old pregnant woman’s vehicle was struck after a silver Buick SUV ran a red light, which caused the vehicle to hit a third car. A man matching Jones’ description ran from the SUV before returning, grabbing a handful of cash and fleeing again, according to witnesses.
Within the SUV, an off-duty police officer who identified Jones found a marijuana pipe, marijuana, and rental paperwork linking the vehicle to the fighter.
The victim was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. However, after a medical exam, police confirmed the woman suffered a broken arm, and according to police spokesperson Tanner Tixier, that elevated the charge to a felony.
Jones’ charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and fines. A misdemeanor would’ve been punishable by up to one year in jail.
“Obviously we have a guy like Jon Jones who has defended his title as many times as he has – and for us to go in and have to strip him of his title and suspend him, it’s not fun,” White said. “But as they say, the show goes on. Anthony Johnson is ready for this fight, and Daniel Cormier was beyond pumped to get this opportunity. What makes it even easier is Cormier is the type of guy that, as soon as he heard it, he said, ‘I’m ready. Put me in. I want this opportunity. I’m your guy.’ He was blowing me and Lorenzo (Fertitta) up from the moment he heard about this.”
Cormier originally was scheduled to face Ryan Bader in the main event of UFC Fight Night 68 on June 6 in New Orleans in his home state of Louisiana. UFC PR director Dave Sholler on Tuesday tweeted a new opponent for Bader is expected to be announced in the coming days.
White said he was unsure of what Jones’ future now holds in the UFC.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” White said. “We have suspended him indefinitely. Obviously he needs to focus on his legal matters right now and, I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.”