In a stunning turn of events, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, has officially vacated his title. The word came straight from “Bones” himself, announcing via social media that he would be taking a step back from mixed martial arts (MMA).
“Just got off the phone with UFC, today I confirm that I’m vacating the light heavyweight championship. It’s officially up for grabs. It’s been an amazing journey, sincere thank you to all my competition, UFC and most importantly you fans.”
“Bones” teased the move a few months back after he and UFC couldn’t come to terms on a big money fight against No. 1 Heavyweight contender, Francis Ngannou. While most chalked it up to a heat of the moment statement, it seems Jones wasn’t bluffing.
The announcement comes one day removed from Jones teasing a move up to Heavyweight to fight current division champion, Stipe Miocic. That was quickly stopped in its tracks by UFC President, Dana White, who has had his differences with “Bones” in the past.
After White and Jones had their disagreement regarding a potential pay raise for him to move up to fight “The Predator,” it’s evident that money still seems to be at the center of all the issues and Jones’ decision to officially leave his belt — and the sport of MMA — behind.
“The last I spoke with UFC, about my salary there was no negotiating. If that ever changes, I’d love to come back and compete again as a Heavyweight. Until then, I’ll be enjoying UFC as a fan and doing my best to take care of my family and community.
“In good faith I will be staying in the testing pool for probably the next half year or so. I’ll continue to lift weights and train all the different martial arts,” he continued.
Just a few days ago, White stated that Jones only had two options: Rematch Dominick Reyes -- who he defeated at UFC 227 earlier this year -- or move up to Heavyweight. As for what this means for the Light Heavyweight division, Dominick Reyes was recently booked to face Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 on Sept. 26, 2020, which will now likely be for the title Jones left behind.
"Bones" terrorized the 205-pound division for more than 12 years by taking out every living legend, hall-of-famer, former champion as well as up-and-comer thrown his way en route to one of the most dominant runs in the history of the sport. Jones has never tasted defeat — other than this — and defended his title a record-breaking 11 times, which includes two memorable title fights against Daniel Cormier, who announced his retirement just two days ago.
That being said, there really wasn't anything left for "Bones" to accomplish in the division, but now it seems even a move up to Heavyweight won’t happen for quite some time unless he and UFC can finally agree to financial terms.
It truly is the end of a dominant era.