The UFC’s decision to strip Jon Jones of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship after his April hit and run seemed more than anything to be a symbolic gesture, and Jones himself isn’t convinced it was much more than that.
During his new hour long interview with Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com, Jones discussed the meeting he had with UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC President Dana White after the hit and run. The 28-year-old said that he wasn’t in the mindset to fight Anthony Johnson after the incident, but he thinks that if he had told the UFC he’d go through with the fight, they wouldn’t have stripped him of the belt and suspended him.
“They had never come to see me before. First time they came to Albuquerque to visit me was to take my belt away,” Jones said of their May meeting (transcribed by MMAMania.com). “Honestly, Lorenzo seemed like he really did care. Lorenzo seemed very genuine. He looked me in the eyes the whole time and was like, ‘how are you doing?’ At the time I didn’t know how I was feeling, I was all over the place emotionally. At the end of the day, it was still a business meeting – one that definitely wasn’t in my favor.
“They asked me how I was feeling and I told them I didn’t want to fight. I do feel if I was ready to fight, I wouldn’t have gotten suspended and my belt stripped away. I didn’t fight for it. I have nothing to prove, that belt doesn’t solidify who I am as a fighter. I needed the break, man. The pressure that I put on myself and the level I was fighting at … to get away from that belt for awhile really set me free. Today I feel great.”
Penick’s Analysis: Would anyone really be surprised if they’d have gone forward with the fight at that time? There was no official court date on the calendar, and though he turned himself over on the charges, he was never officially indicted, either. He reached a settlement later in the year before it hit that point; had he talked to the UFC and said he wanted to stick it out for the scheduled UFC 187 bout with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, it’s really easy to believe that they’d have simply gone forward with that. It wouldn’t have been the smartest thing for him at the time, but they easily could have kept the fight on the docket. He seems in a better spot mentally right now, and though you can’t take everything he says in the video at face value – there’s some legitimate bullshitting going on in his comments about the cocaine test failure, for instance – the time off and the wake up call of what happened is something that could benefit him greatly in his 2016 return.
[Jon Jones art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]