UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is withdrawing from his UFC 178 title defense opposite Daniel Cormier due to a leg injury. Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter first reported the news on Twitter, which the UFC then confirmed on Fox Sports 1's America's Pregame news show:
UPDATE: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m ET.
Jon Jones provides a statement via his Facebook page on his injury and postponement of the fight.
Botter reported via Twitter the specific nature of the injury suffered in training:
Following the bad news of Jones’ withdrawal, Cormier spoke with America’s Pregame to verify that Gustafsson would not replace him in the postponed title fight, telling them that UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta promised him he will remain the No. 1 contender.
Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie.com transcribed the interview, providing quotes from Cormier:
I’ll get a full training camp now. When I heard Jon was hurt, now him and Gustafssson are on the same schedule in order to be healthy. So my first question was, ‘I don’t have to go behind Gustafsson again now, right?’ And I was assured that it’s going to be me in January. He’s not going to take my place again.”
The bout with Cormier is being rescheduled for UFC 182, which will take place on Jan. 3, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. A flyweight title fight between champion Demetrious Johnson and Chris Cariaso is moving from UFC 177 to UFC 178, per the UFC's official Twitter account, and will likely serve as the card's new main event.
Jones and top light heavyweight contender Cormier have been engaged in a heated rivalry. The beef started years ago, when Cormier was still competing as a heavyweight in Strikeforce.
Cormier eventually moved down to the light heavyweight division, successfully defeating UFC newcomer Patrick Cummins and Pride legend Dan Henderson.
When former top contender Alexander Gustafsson was forced to withdraw from his UFC 178 fight with Jones, Cormier stepped in, and the two immediately began exchanging words.The rivalry came to a head last week, when the two fighters clashed in a massive brawl in front of the assembled media.
This turn of events is unfortunate, as UFC 178 was one of the strongest top-to-bottom cards the UFC had put together in a long while.
It still includes the returns of former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and women's bantamweight contender Cat Zingano, a crucial middleweight tilt between Tim Kennedy and Yoel Romero, a featherweight grudge match between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier and much more.
While the majority of the card remains intact, the loss of Jones vs. Cormier is profound.
Ben Fowkles of MMAJunkie and Botter summed up the mood of the MMA community with their respective tweets:
The injury to Jones, in conjunction with the epic buildup for Jones vs. Cormier, truly showcases the boom/bust nature of this sport—the continual delayed charge fans and fighters deal with whenever an injury tables a big fight.
Jones vs. Cormier is still set to take place, about two months later, so all is fine in that regard.
But how does this delay affect Jones? How does it affect Cormier? Perhaps it's a good thing; maybe bad. One thing we do know is that it holds up the rest of the light heavyweight division.
Gustafsson, who was originally supposed to fight Jones, but was injured, was set to be healed up and ready to fight around January. Will he wait around for the winner? Will he take another fight instead of waiting around? Whom will he fight?
More questions than answers.
For now, we will simply be grateful that Jones wasn't hurt worse and that the fight is still scheduled to go down. But don't hold your breath. When it comes to fights being delayed in MMA...all bets are off.
Stick with Bleacher Report for more details as they become available.