According to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White, Anthony Johnson was his first choice to step in and face Jon Jones at UFC 197 on Sat., April 23, 2016 after Daniel Cormier was forced out with an injury.
But the former welterweight-turned-light heavyweight was recovering from dental surgery and medically unfit to take on the ex-champ, which is why the promotion turned to Ovince Saint Preux.
And after Jones claimed that "Rumble" initially accepted the fight only to have a change of heart (those comments here), Johnson took to social media to clear the air, saying he never actually said "yes" to the bout.
Still, when asked by MMA Fighting if he would have accepted the interim title fight against "Bones" at UFC 197 had he not undergone dental work, "Rumble" says he would have said no anyway.
"Right now in my career, no. It's too big of a fight, for us as two alpha males. Know what I'm saying? The fans deserve an actual, a real championship fight between Jon and I. That's what we were supposed to give them before, not an interim title fight. That's not, if you win an interim title you are still in second place since that's not the real title. So I don't think I would have taken it anyway."
Nothing like hitting them with the truth.
Jones and Johnson were initially set to throw down for the 205-pound title at UFC 187 last year before "Bones" was stripped him of his title and suspended him indefinitely for his involvement in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As for when Johnson plans on returning to the cage, he still has to undergo further dental work, but says after that, he'll be good to go for a title fight -- regardless of who's holding the belt -- as long as it doesn't have an interim tag attached to it.