It’s not contract negotiations holding up a potential rematch between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (20-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) and Alexander Gustafsson (16-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), according to Dana White.
The UFC president today told UFC.com that instead, it’s Jones’ desire to fight Daniel Cormier (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) rather than Gustafsson.
“Just to clear up a couple things, people think we’re in contract negotiations with Jon Jones – we’re not,” he said. “Jon Jones still has five fights left on his contract. So what we’re doing right now is trying to get him to sign the bout agreement for Gustafsson. He doesn’t want to fight Gustafsson. … Lorenzo and I have a meeting with Jones on Thursday to get him to sign the bout agreement, and he’s asking to fight Cormier instead.”
(The reason people thought the delay was due to contract negotiations was because that’s what White said a week ago. “We’re doing a new deal with him,” White said on May 24 when asked about the holdup.)
Fans have been clamoring for the Jones-Gustafsson rematch ever since their September scrap at UFC 165 ended in a “Fight of the Year” candidate – and a very narrow win for Jones.
However, former heavyweight Cormier entered the title picture following his UFC 173 victory over Dan Henderson, which moved “DC” to 2-0 at light heavyweight and 15-0 overall. Although Cormier was expected to fight the Jones-Gustafsson winner, “Bones” has expressed interest in fighting the Olympian and former Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix winner first.
The UFC, meanwhile, had long been planning on a Jones-Gustafsson rematch – pending wins for each fighter in their most recent bouts. In March Gustafsson took care of his half of the bargain, knocking out Jimi Manuwa in London. And in April, Jones dominated Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 to set up the rematch.
This past month, officials said they were planning for it to finally take place Aug. 30 at UFC 177 in Las Vegas and that Jones simply needed to accept it.
However, it appears Jones, who’s been relatively quiet in recent weeks, prefers a different opponent.
Gustafsson, meanwhile, keeps pressing for the rematch.
For more on UFC 177, stay stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.