When UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones teased a “big” fight announcement back in September, he was being literal.
Jones says the plan at the time was to move up and challenge for the heavyweight belt.
It never came to fruition as heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic will instead take on former champ Daniel Cormier for a third time at some point in 2020 when Miocic is fully recovered from an eye injury.
“I was trying to get a Stipe Miocic fight,” Jones said in Las Vegas earlier this month of the announcement he had previously teased. “I thought that maybe it would happen but instead we have Stipe-DC 3. But at that moment I was so ready to go to heavyweight and stick my hands in with some of those big fellas. My versatility, I realize, is not things most heavyweights would do, spinning things, flying knees, things like that. I feel really good.”
Jones will instead remain at 205 pounds and defend his belt against Dominick Reyes in the main event of UFC 247 in Houston on Feb. 8.
It seems only a matter of time until he makes the move up, however.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in 2020,” Jones said. “I feel as if I’ve cleared the division and I’m waiting around and I’m taking on new challenges. I’m not sitting on the title. I’m not hiding from anybody. I chose Dominick because he appears to be the best out of all of my contenders and I’m just ready to just take over the world.”
The 32-year-old Jones, whose only real blemishes have come outside the cage, is considered the best light heavyweight champion in history and perhaps the best fighter of all-time.
While rumors have circulated about him entertaining the heavyweight division for several years, he said he only recently started considering it. Jones said he has wrestled with his NFL defensive linemen brothers his whole life and trained with heavyweight stalwarts Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski the last several years.
“I’ve been going with all these big guys my whole career and I’ve always done well,” he said. “At 240, I move just as well as I do at light heavyweight.
“Right now, I’m living with my nutritionist and I’ve built a home gym in my garage and I feel really, really good right now. I’m 230 with a six pack.”
UFC 247 also features a women’s flyweight title bout between Katlyn Chookagian and champion Valentina Shevchenko as well as a heavyweight fight between Derrick Lewis and Ilir Latifi.
Emelianenko begins ‘retirement tour’
Former PRIDE and Bellator heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko will fight the first of three fights on his new contract with Bellator when he meets former UFC light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson this weekend in Japan.
When the deal was announced this summer, Bellator CEO Scott Coker said the three-fight agreement would allow Emelianenko to retire with the company.
The 43-year-old Emelianenko might not be fully committed to that idea.
“That’s what we discussed, that’s what we agreed on, but let’s see how I feel,” Emelianenko told reporters through a translator in Japan this week. “Right now the plan is just like Scott laid out, there’s gonna be three fights and it’s kind of a retirement tour, but when the tour is over let’s see how I feel, we’ll go from there.”
The event, which also features Bellator stars Michael Chandler and Michael Page in separate bouts, will stream on DAZN from Saitama at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
UFC 246 sells out
Conor McGregor’s lengthy absence from the UFC has done little to dampen his appeal at the box office.
UFC 246, headlined by his return bout against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 18, sold out on the first day tickets were available this week.
Fans looking to purchase tickets, which ranged from $350 to $1,500, reported messages of tickets being sold out within three minutes of going on sale.
UFC president Dana White said the total gate will be around $10 million, giving it a chance to place in the top three for MMA cards in Nevada.
McGregor’s last fight, a UFC 229 lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, brought in a record $17,188,895.
UFC 200 is second at $10,746,248, ahead of McGregor’s UFC 194 headliner against Jose Aldo, which brought in $10,006,249.
Official gate numbers will be released on the night of the fight.
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■ Saturday: Bellator 237 (DAZN), Saitama, Japan
■ Tuesday: PFL 10 (ESPN2), New York
■ Jan. 18: UFC 246 (ESPN Plus), T-Mobile Arena
■ Jan. 25: UFC Fight Night 166 (ESPN Plus), Raleigh, North Carolina