UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has a date and a deal – though no location – for his upcoming Alexander Gustafsson rematch. However, he still thinks Daniel Cormieris more deserving of the title fight.
Jones, in New York City on Monday for a media day devoted to the “EA Sports UFC” video-game launch, spoke to FOX Sports 1's “America’s Pregrame” about the long-awaited rematch with Gustafsson. Jones narrowly won their first meeting back in September at UFC 165, and the rematch is now set for Sept. 27 at UFC 178.
While originally targeted for Toronto, Jones said there’s no official location for the title fight, though he ruled out the possibility of it taking place in Gustafsson’s native Sweden.
Jones (20-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who drew some ire in recent months for mentioning surging contender Cormier (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) as a possible next opponent over Gustafsson (16-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), didn’t back down from his belief that the undefeated Olympian should get the next crack at his belt.
“Who’s more deserving? I would say Daniel Cormier has better accolades and the better record,” Jones said. “He’s undefeated, and he’s beaten former world champions before. He was a world champion in the Strikeforce organization, so I would say Cormier.
“But, I think the fans want to see me fight Alexander more, and I think that’s what’s most important.”
Jones is currently ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light heavyweight rankings. Gustafsson is No. 2, and Cormier is No. 3. So it’s not like Jones is angling for an easier fight.
However, during these past few months, Jones and UFC officials haven’t always been on the same page. After UFC.com cited an ESPN.com report this past month and said the UFC was waiting on the champ to accept the Gustafsson rematch, UFC President Dana White said Jones vs. Gustafsson II hadn’t been signed because officials were working on a new deal with the champ. However, a week later, White said that wasn’t the case, and instead, it was because Jones was asking for the Cormier fight instead.
That obviously didn’t go well with Gustafsson, who subsequently told MMAjunkie that Jones should hurry up and sign the bout agreement.
Through it all, it was obvious UFC officials and Jones weren’t really talking to each other. However, with the Gustafsson rematch now set, Jones said the relationship has improved.
“I think we have a very healthy relationship,” he said. “I went to go meet with Dana White and (UFC CEO) Lorenzo Feritta a few days ago, and we had a three-hour meeting. We just sat and talked about our feelings for each other, and then we got down to business. I think we’re on a real clear playing field right now, with a clean slate, and we’re looking to build from here.”
Through it all, Jones’ reputation has taken a bit of a hit with many fans, and some high-profile social-media gaffes (like the one below) certainly didn’t help matters.
Jones, though, said he’s trying to improve things on that front, too.
“All the greatest athletes, they have to deal with this adversity, and I’m embracing it and realizing that if I wasn’t working so hard and wasn’t in this position, no one would care, and no one would be talking,” he said. “I find a way to be grateful for the hate and try to show my appreciation for the positivity.”
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