In a recent interview with Ariel Helwani, Jones revealed that he thinks he wouldn’t be stripped off his MMA title or he will not get suspended if he agreed to fight Anthony Johnson last May during the UFC 187, a month after he got arrested.
“Obviously, they would have the power to say differently, but I really have a feeling that if I was ready to fight, they would have let me fight. Especially because there was no court date. I wasn’t
proven guilty of anything at the time. I feel as if they would have let me fight. For sure,” Jones said.
A lot of things are crossing Jones’ mind though. He admitted that he just wanted to retire and leave the MMA industry for good. Going up against Johnson, who is a terrifying striker capable of knocking out his opponents in just one punch, just weeks after his felony and arrest is definitely not a good move for him.
“I told them I wasn’t interested in fighting. I told them that I’ve wanted a break from fighting for quite a while. I told them that I didn’t feel as if I could really focus on my fight with so much lingering over me. I knew fight week for me would be hell. The fans were going to give it to me the way I deserved it. I didn’t really have the courage to go through that at the time,” Jones said.
For Jones, the reason why the UFC took his belt from him is not because of the felony charges and arrest; it was his statements that ticked Fertitta and White off.
“I told them do whatever you guys have to do. They told me that we’re probably gonna strip you of the title and suspend you indefinitely. I said, ‘Honestly, I could give a f*ck.’ That’s actually what I said. Sure enough, they took the belt and they did what they had to do. Shortly after it really hit me that I didn’t have the belt anymore. That was a long day for me,” he said.
The UFC, on the other hand, told MMA Fighting that Jones’ claims were 100% inaccurate and the verdict of stripping him off his title was already written down even before Jones and the promotion had a meeting. The UFC also said that executives even flew from Albuquerque to inform him personally about the decision, and even offered their support. The official from UFC also revealed that the promotion kept closely in touch with Jones and his legal team, like his manager and lawyers, throughout the whole legal process. The executives from the promotion even attended the court proceedings and plea hearings.
Jones went against Daniel Cormier for the vacant title last UFC 187. Cormier, who lost to Jones four months earlier, won the bout by submission during the third round. Jones revealed that he watched the bout with no ill feelings, just purely excitement. He said that he felt relieved and that’s the reason why didn’t try to make the UFC change their minds and decide to make it interim.
“I didn’t fight for it, man. I had nothing to prove. That belt doesn’t solidify who I am as a fighter. It doesn’t. I’ve beaten a who’s who. I needed the break, man. I really needed the break. I’ve been an entertainer since I was 19 years old. Since the day I joined the sport, people were already hailing me as the new Anderson Silva and the future of the sport. I’ve always had a little bit of that expectation on me every fight that I’ve had. The pressure that I put on myself and the level I was fighting at, to get away from that belt for a while really set me free. Today, I really feel great,” Jones said.