After months of contract disputes and feuds, Jon Jones is done with his light heavyweight championship.
The American great's future in the sport has been under a massive cloud after he called Dana White “stubborn and greedy" and accused the UFC boss of lying about a pay dispute that has played out very publicly over social media.
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True to form, the 33-year-old has now confirmed in a series if tweets that he’s vacated his light heavyweight title and that the belt is “officially up for grabs.”
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.— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 17, 2020
The 33-year-old said he would stay in the USADA drug testing pool for “probably the next half year or so” out of good faith, and that he’ll keep training for the time being.
Jones defended his light heavyweight title at UFC 247 in February, where he picked up a win over Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision.
He hasn’t lost a bout in more than a decade - outside of his no-contest against Daniel Cormier in 2017 after testing positive for turinabol - and is undeniably one of the best fighters in UFC history.
Jones first captured the title in 2011 with a TKO victory over Maurico Rua at UFC 128, and defended it eight straight times before he was stripped of the belt following a hit-and-run arrest in 2015.
He reclaimed the belt last year after a knockout win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, and has successfully defended it twice more since.
His move came just days after he tweeted that he’d be “considered the very baddest man on this planet” very soon, as he wanted a chance to claim the heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic - who defended his title against Daniel Cormier on the weekend.
Avoid Stipe’s right hand, I’m too fast, I’ll be too strong when the time is right and have way too much energy. Soon and very soon I’ll be considered the baddest man on this planet— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 16, 2020
Heavyweight world championships I will be seeing you real soon. Victorious— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 16, 2020
UFC president Dana White, however, shut that down this weekend.
“Francis [Ngannou] has been out there destroying everybody, and if you look at how long ago it was that he got that title shot, he’s worked his way back,” White said, via MMA Fighting.
“It belongs to Francis Ngannou. But yeah, Jon Jones going to heavyweight is very interesting.”
Jones would ‘love to come back’
Jones didn’t close the door on a return to the Octagon, though he made it clear that his dispute with the UFC and White hasn’t been settled.
He has hinted at making the jump to heavyweight for quite some time and has talked about potential fights against both Ngannou and Miocic.
Jones, however, couldn’t come to an agreement with White or the UFC and repeatedly slammed them both over “unbelievable” negotiations.
White claimed that Jones wanted “what Deontay Wilder was paid” for his rematch with Tyson Fury, but Jones pushed back and said that White was lying - and even asked to be released from his deal.
He tweeted on Monday that he would return to compete at heavyweight in the future if the UFC is willing to negotiate.
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 has a fan and doing my best to take care of my family and community https://t.co/NoTTpRTMH0— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 17, 2020