Jon Jones may or may not be Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion after claiming to have vacated the belt last weekend. I don’t know what his contractual obligations are at this stage of his career, but as we learned with the Randy Couture debacle, walking away is not as easy as it sounds.
Quitting is not the same as retiring.
That means Jones can’t compete for any other mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions until he completes the remaining fights on his current deal. Unless, of course, UFC terminates his contract. Fat chance, because Dana White and Co. aren’t going to let the competition profit from a fighter they helped create.
Ryan Bader, ever the optimist, remains hopeful.
“Gotta do what’s best for you Jon Jones,” Bader tweeted. “There is always another option though, Bellator MMA. Would love to run it back. Respect.”
Jones submitted Bader during their UFC 126 showdown back in early 2011. Both combatants were undefeated at the time and “Bones” would follow that up with his destruction of Mauricio Rua to capture the 205-pound crown.
“Darth” has since transitioned to Bellator MMA, where he secured the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles. During his 7-0 (1 NC) run, Bader has defeated the likes of Phil Davis, Matt Mitrione, and Fedor Emelianenko, among others.
One fighter not feeling as hopeful as Bader is UFC light heavyweight contender Dominick Reyes, who believes he defeated Jones in the UFC 247 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, despite losing by way of split decision after five rounds of back-and-forth action.
“Disappointing if it is true and he is serious, but the show must go on,” Reyes wrote on Twitter.