Jon Jones has never lost the light-heavyweight belt in the ring, which is now held by Daniel Cormier.
The one loss on the 28 year old’s record came via a disqualification. UFC president Dana White would later say that the disqualification should have been declared a no-contest.
Jones had his light heavyweight title stripped from him in April 2015. The decision to relieve him of the belt came following a hit and run incident that same month. Jones was found to be in breach of the UFC’s Athlete Code of Conduct Policy. This gave former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier the opportunity to win the vacant belt. Cormier had already lost a title shot to Jones just three and a half months previously. His defeat of Anthony Johnson in May 2015 and defence against Alexander Gustafsson last October mean he is still the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
53 weeks after losing his belt, Jones would be offered the opportunity to take it back at UFC 197. The main event of the evening was scheduled to be a Jones vs Cormier showdown, yet as was the case with UFC 189 and UFC 196, an injury prevented the showpiece from taking place. Cormier pulled out of the bout on April 1st citing a foot injury. Jones will now face Ovince Saint Preux.
In an interview with former UFC fighter and current UFC commentator Brian Stann on SiriusXM Rush, Cormier said he believes that Jones is primed for a fall. This realisation on Cormier’s part made it even harder for him to withdraw from the fight on April 23rd. He told Stann:
“I think this is why it was so hard to actually make the call, because I truly do believe that right now is when he’s primed to get beat.”
Cormier went into great detail when explaining his hypothesis.
According to the reigning champion, Jones’ vulnerability is down to a number of factors. The first of these is the prohibition of intro venous rehydration by the UFC in line with their US Anti Doping Agency testing programme.
The ban came into effect on October 1st 2015 meaning that Jones has still not fought under the new regulations. IV rehydration was used by many fighters to rehydrate following a weight cut. In his hiatus from the UFC, Jones has been spending a lot of time in the weight room. In November 2015 a video emerged showing Jones deadlifting 585 pounds (265 kg) in preparation for his fight against Cormier.
One would think that the serious bulk which Jones is intent on adding may make it harder for him to cut weight and successfully rehydrate afterwards.
His lack of fights is another factor in his vulnerability according to Cormier.
“Jon Jones has only fought me and Glover Texeira in 2 years. In 2 years, he’s had 2 fights.”
Jones’ last fight was in January 2015 when he defeated Daniel Cormier via an unanimous decision. Jones’ fight prior to his UFC 182 showdown with Cormier came in April 2014 at UFC 172. Cormier believes that Jones’ ring rust will be a deciding factor in his fight on April 23rd.
One factor Cormier did not mention however is Jon Jones’ recent legal troubles. The light heavyweight challenger found himself under scrutiny once more after a traffic stop in New Mexico last month. Jon Jones received a total of five traffic citations following a stop after he was accused of drag racing. In a vitriolic exchange with the officer in question Jones calls him “a f*cking liar” and a “pig”, all of which was caught on the officer’s body cam.
Even more surprising than the omission of his legal troubles was the apparent support Daniel Cormier showed Jones. On the accusation that Jones was drag racing, Cormier said:
You know I don’t generally like to agree with anything that Jones does, but in that situation I do believe there was way more to that than what’s led to be. And when they go to court, I think it’s going to come out.
Whether or not Cormier believes the most prolific winner in the UFC will lose or not is debatable. The position Cormier is offering may have more to do with justifying his decision to pull out of UFC 197. If Jones (18-1) were to lose to Saint Preux (19-7) he would most likely still get the chance to take back the belt, which many fans believe to be rightfully his.
Dana White simply could not turn down the fight, given the amount of hype and publicity as well as the clear animosity between the fighters.