Jon Jones had his championship stripped by the UFC after a series of missteps outside of the cage. However, he has a chance to reclaim that belt at UFC 200 in a rematch against current UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in a title unification bout.
Jones returned to the Octagon last month and defeated Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision to claim the interim title.
It wasn’t the best performance we have ever seen from Jones inside of the Octagon, but he has some very good reasons for not looking as sharp as he has in the past. After all, “ring rust” is a very real thing.
“I was in jail as the same month of my fight. Just going through a lot of stuff. I hadn’t fought in over 15 months and everybody’s talking about my performance being so bad — I got punched twice. I won by unanimous decision so if that’s a bad performance look at the level people expect from me. It’s really not a bad problem to have,” Jones said at the UFC 200 pre-fight press conference, via FOX Sports.
“I went out there, I didn’t feel comfortable in the Octagon and I still absolutely dominated that fight. I believe everything happens for a reason. I got that ring rust off of me and I got right back to the strategy and the game plan that I originally had.”
Despite all of the distractions outside of the cage, Jones was able to earn the victory to set him up for a chance to return to glory. After reigning the light heavyweight division for years, Jones is eager to get another crack at Cormier.
And while his last performance may have been lackluster, Jones expects a much better version of himself on July 9.
“I believe I’m going to annihilate DC,” Jones said. “So far, it’s all I’ve ever done to every opponent. Alexander Gustafsson’s the only person who had a competitive fight with me. Expect to see a hell of a lot more out of me this next fight. I have a strong strategy for DC.”
Many expected to see the best version of Jon Jones we have ever seen before when he returned to the cage against Saint Preux last month, but he just wasn’t ready to be at the top of his game.
Now that he has had that tune up fight and is fully motivated for his UFC 200 rematch with Cormier, we could see an entirely new animal inside of the cage. Will Jones come out on top? Sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts and predictions.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports