Lacking faith it happens, UFC boss says Cormier vs. Jones 2 will be co-main event Lacking faith it happens, UFC boss says Cormier vs. Jones 2 will be co-main event Copyright 2017 USA TODAY
UFC President Dana White still doesn’t feel confident enough to put Jon Jones at the top of a fight card.
Even with Jones’ rematch queued up against light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier after this past weekend’s UFC 210 event, White has doubts about whether it will materialize – and he doesn’t want to shell out the money to make it a main event.
“If Jones fights, Jones is going to be a co-main event anyway,” he said after this past Saturday’s pay-per-view card at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
White was talking about the possibility of installing Cormier vs. Jone 2 at the top of UFC 213 lineup, which takes place July 8 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. One day before the event, Jones’ suspension for an anti-doping violation ends, making him technically eligible to fight.
Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 … – Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY SportsDaniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank… – Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY SportsDaniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank… – Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The problem, according to White, is that UFC 213’s co-headliner is already set, and giving Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) the main event is not going to happen.
“I’d put just everybody ahead and make them the main event,” he said. “I just don’t have the faith right now that the fight’s going to happen.”
White’s skepticism doesn’t come out of nowhere. This past July, he was left scrambling when Jones failed an out-of-competition test for a banned estrogen blocker and was scratched from a title-unifier with Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) at the blockbuster pay-per-view event UFC 200. Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva stepped in on just a few days’ notice to take on Cormier in a non-title affair to save the card. But the executive wasn’t about to forget what happened, especially considering Jones’ long list of previous issues outside the cage.
After Jones was suspended one year and stripped of an interim belt, a strap he earned after being stripped of the undisputed title in the wake of a hit-and-run accident, White said he would never take the risk of putting Jones atop a card.
White echoed the comments he made this past fall, saying the financial risk of promoting Jones as a headliner outweighs the reward of his box office return.
“I don’t want to spend millions and millions of dollars in promoting a fight that doesn’t happen,” the executive said.
As it turned out, Jones was in town this past weekend to promote his return, give his first public appearance since his suspension, and take in Cormier’s second title defense against Anthony Johnson in UFC 210’s headliner. He correctly picked Cormier as the winner and talked up a rematch.
When the champ dressed him down in a raucous post-fight speech, cameras were there to catch a ready-made piece of promotion.
But at this moment, what that will amount to is a fight that takes second fiddle to a bigger attraction. And if Cormier holds to previous comments, the window of opportunity is even smaller.
In February, Cormier told “The MMA Hour” that the only way he’d take a co-headliner with Jones was on a card headlined by UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor, which would guarantee a huge payout from pay-per-view bonuses.
So, the list is pretty short, though it’s doubtful Cormier would mind affixing himself to a possible showdown between McGregor and boxing kingpin Floyd Mayweather, which appears to be in the works for the fall.
White said he hasn’t spoken to Jones since the fiasco of this past summer, so maybe a line of communication would open his mind. For now, it seems pretty much closed.
“We’ll probably talk closer to when it’s time for him to fight, which I don’t believe will be in July anyway,” he said.
For more on UFC 210, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.