In order for Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson to fight for the undisputed UFC light heavyweight title later tonight (Sat., Dec. 29, 2018) at UFC 232 live on pay-per-view from inside The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., Daniel Cormier had to relinquish his 205-pound title.
Remember, before yesterday’s public announcement that he’s officially letting go of his UFC light heavyweight belt, Cormier was a double champ after capturing the UFC’s heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic earlier this year.
While a plan was put in motion months ago to have Cormier relinquish his title in advance to UFC 232’s main event, UFC president Dana White believes “DC” may have gone a little far with his public renouncement.
“He’s being a little dramatic right now,” White told MMAjunkie following UFC 232 ceremonial weigh-ins (video replay here). “He’s being a little dramatic because of his hatred for Jon Jones. He would’ve never been stripped. He’s vacating. … I expect Cormier to be all fired up and on a rampage. He hates this guy.”
Cormier, who last defended his heavyweight title opposite Derrick Lewis at UFC 230, has come up short against Jones twice in the past. His first encounter was a unanimous decision loss at UFC 182 which ended Cormier’s MMA unbeaten streak. His second encounter with Jones came back at UFC 214, in which Jones initially defeated Cormier via third-round knockout to reclaim his light heavyweight title. But after a failed drug test overturned Jones’ win to a no contest, Cormier was given back the belt and the rest is history.
So even though Cormier’s announcement may have been a little unnecessary, it’s completely understandable given the history he has shared with Jones both inside and out of the cage.
“At the end of the day he wasn’t being stripped of the title, he was vacating the title,” White said. “It would never go down in history that he was stripped. ‘I’m going to get stripped and I didn’t do anything wrong.’ I told ‘DC’ a long time ago: ‘If you’re my champion for the rest of my career, I’m good with that.’ He’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever worked with, such a good guy.”
Cormier, 39, will remain the UFC’s heavyweight champion and likely hold out for an early 2019 matchup with WWE superstar Brock Lesnar. If that superfight doesn’t pan out, though, “DC” can always go back down to light heavyweight and take one more shot at Jones.
“It’s up to Daniel Cormier to challenge me to get his belt back,” said Jones during UFC 232’s weigh-in show on FOX Sports 1. “I heard that he ended up relinquishing his belt, and I think that’s a good look. But at the end of the day, I know most people know that he never was the champion. Hats off to him for being the heavyweight champion of the world, but I’ve been the light heavyweight champion since 2011. That’s just facts. That’s just facts. The belt was given to him. He has not beaten me. So, he can cancel all doubts by challenging me and really being a legit champ champ.”
Of course, in order for any sort of trilogy bout between Jones and Cormier to take place “Bones” will have to defeat Gustafsson later tonight at UFC 232. That’s not going to be easy.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 232 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
To see who else is fighting at UFC 232 click here.