Jon Jones, 29, is perhaps the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter ever, defeating a Murderer’s Row of opponents since he dethroned Pride FC legend Mauricio Rua back in 2011 to first claim the 205-pound world title.
Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier, among others, all tried to unseat “Bones” at some point or another during his reign of terror and all of them came up short. Indeed, the only man to really defeat Jones during this span is Jones himself, his erratic behavior and irresponsibility outside of the Octagon leading to multiple arrests and, ultimately, UFC stripping his belt and suspending him indefinitely last summer.
Jones supposedly cleaned up his act, only to flunk a pre-fight drug test ahead of his long-awaited title unification bout against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 last month that triggered his removal from the monumental pay-per-view (PPV) main event altogether.
One of the men who has felt the “Bones” burn is Anthony Johnson, who was lined up to fight Jones at UFC 187 just before he was stripped of his title. Cormier would replace Jones and go on to defeat Johnson via third round submission to win the interim division crown. Johnson had another opportunity to finally fight Jones at UFC 197 on short notice, but mouth surgery paved the way for Ovince Saint Preux to fill-in instead.
With Jones now looking down the barrel of a two-year ban from the sport because of his latest drug test failure, it seems that a fight between Jones and Johnson was just never meant to be.
"It's just not gonna happen -- at this point, I know it's not gonna happen," Johnson told ESPN.com. "It is what it is. I'm moving forward. Everybody is moving forward. I'm still shooting high and trying to do what I can in this sport. I'm not focused on Jon anymore. And I can tell you Daniel Cormier, Glover -- they're not focused on Jon, either. Nobody in this division is focused on Jon anymore. That's a fact."
Johnson will lock horns with fellow top-ranked contender Glover Teixeira in less than 10 days in the co-main event of UFC 202, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner is expected to earn the next title shot against current roost ruler, Daniel Cormier, in the near future.
Meanwhile, the GOAT prepares for his next legal defense before Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).