When all is said and done in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night (May 23, 2015) -- and UFC 187 comes to its conclusion -- for the first time in more than four years someone other than Jon Jones will be crowned UFC's Light Heavyweight champion.
Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson are, of course, fighting for the now-vacant UFC 205-pound championship inside MGM Grand Garden Arena this Memorial Day weekend. Jones was stripped of his title and indefinitely suspended on April 28, 2015, after Albuquerque Police Department charged "Bones" with felony hit-and-run for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident that left a pregnant woman with a broken arm.
It also left another stain on his spotty reputation.
The unceremonious end to the title reign of Jones has been an odd one. His meteoric rise through the ranks -- followed by dominance in the 205-pound division for the last four years -- has come crashing down because of the legal troubles that have sullied his name and compelled UFC, unprecedentedly, to strip him of the title.
And now, either Cormier or Johnson will be crowned the new champion at UFC 187, but neither man will have actually defeated Jones to earn it.
ESPN MMA analyst and former UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight title contender, Chael Sonnen, told MMAMania that UFC's decisions in regard to Jones are a bit odd.
"In fighting there is a history," Sonnen said. "You can't operate outside of the confines of history. You get stripped for two reasons: You don't defend your belt or you are unable to defend your belt. Those are the only two things that get you stripped. You have a guy who is still in the company and you took his belt. It's weird. It's really weird. If you cut a guy and he is no longer with the company than, obviously, he is no longer the champion. I don't know what you do from here. Are you telling me that Jon's next fight when he comes back won't be for the title? Because if it is for the title, than what's the difference?"
Earlier this week, UFC president Dana White said that Jones would, indeed, most likely fight for the title upon his return if he didn't have to serve jail time.
"If you put him in a title fight then none of this makes sense. It's the exact same spot he's in," Sonnen continued. "He walks out to the ring without the belt and he walks away with the belt. Or, if he loses, he doesn't leave with the belt. That is the exact same thing that would've happened if he would've walked to the ring with the belt."
Sonnet, host of the "You're Welcome" podcast and professional wrestling analyst with Global Force Wrestling, also mentioned it wouldn't make sense to put Jones in a contender fight or not have him in anything other than a main event due to the fact his contract "calls for pay-per-view points no matter where he is on the card."
Thus, bringing it back to Jones being in a title fight, where he would've been had he not been stripped.
"Then it comes back full circle, okay, well then you have to put him back in a title fight," Sonnen said. "You just have to do it six months from now and everyone forgets about this. Well, if you do that, nothing has changed. It's the exact same spot. So, it's just weird. I don't know what you do with him. That's why it's weird."
Stripping the champion or not stripping the champion aside, Sonnen is of the opinion some type of action had to be taken in light of recent events.
"Yeah, something needed to be done," he said. "Whether the commission needed to handle that or [UFC] needed to handle that, I suppose there is no wrong answer there. In his case, it may end up being bold, but to strip a guy... It's just never been done before. I'm not second guessing it. I'm not even saying it's wrong. I'm saying it's never been done before. Anyone who says it isn't weird is wrong. It is weird. It's very weird.
"You've got the guy that is the champ and he is still on the roster but he isn't the champ. You see the problem with this? It's really weird. And if his next fight is for the title, literally, nothing changes. So, you can either admit now that he is really not stripped, or you are going to have to admit it in six months when you bring him back and let him out there for a title fight. It's the same thing and so, it's weird."
The retired fighter is also surprised that one of the more prominent reporters who called for Jones suspension and title to be stripped, Kevin Iole from Yahoo.com, doesn't find it odd that UFC did both but kept him in the promotion.
"Kevin Iole was the first reporter, the biggest reporter to go out and say that Jon needed to be sanctioned and the sanction he called for was the stripping of the title," Sonnen said. "But, he didn't suggest that he be cut from the company. So, that was the PR push and that is what drove them to do it. And it's like Kevin, really? What do you want? You want him to sit in the corner with a dunce cap on, but he stays in the company? Do you realize how weird this is?
As the Jones talk began to fade, Sonnen switched gears to discuss Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier, the No.1- and No. 3-ranked contenders who will headline UFC 187 in what is really the best possible match up UFC could've made after Jones suspension.
Sonnen had high praise for the upcoming Light Heavyweight title fight.
"What an incredible match," said Sonnen, who recently grappled to a draw at Metamoris 6 against Renato Sobral. "This match was going to happen sooner or later. It just looked like it was going to be later. It looked like "DC" would probably — if "Rumble" won — take on the winner there. If Jones won, he would end up in there with him again sometime. This match was going to happen, but I don't know. I tend to lean toward "DC," but if there is something to be said for momentum, boy is it ever on Anthony Johnson's side.
"The guy has had a resurgence every bit as strong as Robbie Lawler's. He's not only looked untouchable, he's looked flat out scary. If you are a fighter in the back and you are watching him, you are swallowing real deep and going ‘man, I hope I don't get matched up with that guy.' I'm curious. We are going to have to see. I do think it turns into a kickboxing match and most people think that favors ‘Rumble.'
"I happen to think that Daniel Cormier has the hands. He's got some wins in the heavyweight division, including over "Bigfoot" Antonio Silva, who he knocked out. He traded punches with Roy Nelson. Traded some strikes with Josh Barnett before he got some of those takedowns. So, I happen to think DC can strike with the best of them, too. It's a pretty compelling match up."
Most experts — including Sonnen — are of the opinion that the whoever wins the title, it will come with an asterisk next to it because of not winning it outright from Jones. Cormier told MMAmania.com recently that it's always been about the belt. Sonnen had Cormier on his podcast recently and said "DC" had added fuel after Jones' manager, Malki Kawa, teased that Jones "may never fight again."
"DC though, had a little bit of fuel though, because Malki came out, and Malki — for reasons unknown — what his angle is I'm not sure," Sonnen explained. "I just know the statement was not true. He said Jon may not fight again. Okay, Malki, you got your headline. I'm not really sure you guys needed a headline, but you got yourself one. My whole point is this and I made it to DC and I made it to you earlier: You take a guy's belt for two reasons. He doesn't fight or he's unable to fight. But, at the end of the day, ‘X' amount of time goes by and he's not in the ring, that's the reason you strip a guy.
"‘DC' came out and used Malki in his favor and said, ‘Chael, you got to understand, Malki said Jon may never fight again. So if his own camp is saying he may never fight again, why wait to take his belt? Let's just take it today and put it up for grabs.' I said, ‘okay, you are right.' His camp just gave you the ammo you need to justify this fight not being for an interim title."
The fight between Cormier and Johnson will result in a new 205-pound champion and the start of a new era in the division. You may not agree with all Sonnen has to say here, but most will agree it is definitely a weird chapter in UFC history.
One that will remain open until Jones' eventual return.