Jon Jones Talks Daniel Cormier Injury, Issues Heavyweight Challenge for UFC 197

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04:  Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones interacts with media during the UFC Unstoppable launch press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 4, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

UFC light heavyweight contender Jon "Bones" Jones still wants to fight at UFC 197, even after Daniel Cormier pulled out of the event with an injury, and he has urged the UFC to come up with a replacement, saying he'll even fight a heavyweight if he has to.

Anthony "Rumble" Johnson could be a possible replacement, handing the 32-year-old an unexpected shot at Jones.

As reported by MMAFighting.com's Shaun Al-Shatti, Cormier pulled out of their rematch scheduled for Saturday, April 23, due to injury. Jones took to Twitter to wish his rival a speedy recovery:

Jon Bones Jones @JonnyBones

I don't wish injuries on anyone, I hope you have a healthy recovery Daniel. Enjoy that belt

He later took to Instagram with a message for the UFC, asking the organisation to find an opponent for him so he could save the card:

Al-Shatti thought it was quite the crowd-pleasing move to suggest he would fight any heavyweight out there:

Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti

Talk about a way to gather back public support. Challenging any HW/205er to fight on a short notice and save an event? Never a dull moment.

Jones hasn't entered the Octagon since beating Cormier by unanimous decision in January of last year, as he has spent the last 12 months fighting several ongoing legal battles, per Al-Shatti. 

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Those issues reared their head earlier this week after he was arrested for violating the terms of his probation. According to Al-Shatti, Jones received no less than five tickets and served two days in jail, but he was released on Thursday. And the UFC allowed his planned bout with Cormier to go ahead.

The light heavyweight division seemed set for a major switch at the top in his absence after Johnson beat Alexander Gustafsson by knockout in the first round in January of last year, putting himself in a position to challenge for the title.

He lost a title bout against Cormier by submission in June but has bounced back with two consecutive victories and remains one of the most exciting fighters in the organisation. The brawler would make for a fantastic opponent for Jones from a stylistic perspective, and per Fox Sports' Damon Martin, it looks like the two sides are talking:

Damon Martin @DamonMartin

Jon Jones' PR team tweets that he's fighting Anthony "Rumble" Johnson at UFC 197 and then promptly deletes the message. Hmmm....

Before Johnson lost to Cormier, he was regarded as Jones' biggest threat due to his tremendous punching power and knockout ability. Per ESPN.com, 15 of his 21 MMA wins have come inside the distance.

Bones has a tendency to emulate his opponent's style and beat them at their own game, and in the case of Johnson, that would be music to every fan's ears. A bout between the two would likely descend into a slugfest, and unless one of the two can find the breakthrough in a hurry, it could be a Fight of the Year candidate.

But fans shouldn't get too excited just yet, per MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

As I wrote about 30 mins ago, though, that fight isn't official and according to multiple sources Rumble leaning towards not fighting 4/23.

A bout with Jones would be the biggest of Johnson's career, and if he doesn't fight the former champion at UFC 197, he's bound to get another shot sooner rather than later. Jones has been an unbeatable force for years―one has to assume Johnson would prefer to enter such a contest with a full camp.

If Jones doesn't fight at UFC 197, the main card would become the flyweight title bout between Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo. While that has the makings of a fantastic fight, it lacks the star quality of someone like Jones or Cormier. So expect the UFC to find a solid opponent for the former champion.


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