Friday (Dec. 13, 2013) was a pretty important day for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). During a last minute conference call, UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave from the sport and vacating the belt that he's held since 2007.
The promotion made the decision to book Johny Hendricks against Robbie Lawler for the now vacant title and that the welterweight bout would be the main event of UFC 171 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas in 2014. There was only one issue: Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira were already booked as the main event of that card.
UFC President Dana White announced that Jones and Teixeira would instead be the main event of UFC 172, which takes place on April 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. It's the third time the bout has been rescheduled.
Following the EA Sports UFC cover reveal, Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting spoke with Jones about "the announcement" or more specifically, how St-Pierre's hiatus affects him as a UFC champion.
"A lot of jumping the gun was going down, kind of making me look bad. But, it happens. Dana and I came up with a way to salvage this whole thing and that was pushing me back one more time. I get to fight in Baltimore. My brother's a Raven, so this is going to work out great for me. The marketing is going to be phenomenal."
Jones is referencing early reports that he and Teixeira would be the main event of UFC 169 and UFC 170. Those rumors were quickly squashed before they were booked as the main event for UFC 171. At the time, Jones stated he needed to heal up and wouldn't be physically ready for those cards.
However, the "matchmaking musical chairs" would not be necessary without St-Pierre's shocking announcement. Or shocking to everyone besides "Bones," who told Helwani that he wasn't surprised that "Rush" needed time away from the sport.
"I am not surprised by it," he said. "I understand what Georges is going through, it's a lot of work and I'm actually happy for him. I don't think he's got any more to prove. He's been through that division several times and he went out like a champion -- on top and on his terms with a good head on his shoulders. I think there's so many opportunities out there for him and I'm happy for him. I think he's a great example."