After Daniel Cormier pulled out of UFC 197’s main event against Jon Jones, light heavyweight juggernaut Anthony Johnson was expected to save the day. Initial reports suggested “Rumble” accepted the fight, but it was later revealed that the former welterweight contender was forced to refuse due to dental surgery.
“Bones”, who was stripped of the 205-pound title after a hit-and-run incident last year, will now face Ovince Saint Preux for the interim championship but expected to meet Johnson in the Octagon.
The 28-year-old explained his confusion on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
“Originally, the UFC called me and asked about Anthony Johnson,” Jones said. “They said that he had already accepted the fight, and they asked me if I was going to accept the fight. I told them I needed a meeting with my coaches. I had a meeting with my coaches, and the next morning I called the UFC said let’s do this thing. They said that Anthony’s camp changed their mind, I guess, since he had some dental work he needed to do.
“That made no sense to me whatsoever, for him to be ready at one point and then the next minute it was dental work. So I just told Lorenzo (Fertitta), whoever you need me to fight, I want to make things right for UFC 151. I want to do something for my fans, something positive. I know people who have been saving up months to make it out to Vegas for this fight. I know guys who, this is their anniversary gift or birthday gift from people, and I was like, you know what, I’ve put my fans through so much already. I need to get out there and just put it on the line. So I said I’ll fight anybody. They came up with Ovince.”
It’s been over a year since Jones last fought and many believe St. Preux was selected as a tune-up fight for the pound-for-pound #1. Jones, however, doesn’t see things that way, as he revealed to FOX Sports last Monday.
The Jackson-Wink fighter defended his belt eight times, surpassing legend Tito Ortiz for the most consecutive title defenses, before Cormier seized the vacant championship against Anthony Johnson.
Jones vs. Saint Preux, which will headline the UFC 197 PPV, also features a flyweight championship clash between Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo and will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 23.
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