UFC Strips Jones of Interim Belt
While it won’t come as news to those following Jon Jones’ recent troubles, the UFC has officially stripped him of his interim light-heavyweight title. UFC President Dana White confirmed the news to ESPN’s Bret Okamoto.
Jones was awarded the interim light-heavyweight title in April of this year when he defeated Ovince St. Preux at UFC 197. He had been scheduled to rematch Daniel Cormier, who now holds the undisputed title that Jones once held, but Cormier was forced out of the fight due to injury. Despite it being the first time Cormier had to pull out of a UFC fight, the interim belt was put on the line.
This is now the second time that Jones (22-1) has been stripped of a belt. He reigned as the undisputed champion since 2011, but was stripped of his title after committing a hit-and-run in the spring of 2015.
Now, as a result of a failed drug test prior to UFC 200 — which Jones had to withdraw from two days ahead of the fight — and his subsequent suspension, UFC President Dana White says he has once again been stripped.
"It doesn’t make sense," White told Okamoto. "He was the interim champion because he should have been fighting for the title [in April]. We gave him this, ‘You were supposed to fight for the title, here it is.’"
"It doesn’t make sense with all the stuff that is going on for him to still be the interim champion."
The loss of an interim title that is more a marketing tool than anything will not sting Jones as much as the one-year suspension handed down by USADA.
As of now, Jones can return to the Octagon in July of 2017. However, he still awaits sanctioning from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who may or may not tack on additional time to USADA’s one-year ban.
Even if Jones returns by next summer, White says that the former champion has wasted much of his prime.
"Jon Jones has blown it in every way shape and form a guy with that much talent can blow it," White said. "Greatest talent ever and the biggest screw-up ever."