Jon Jones has, technically, never lost the UFC light heavyweight title since he first won it back in 2011, having had it stripped on multiple occasions for failed drug tests, but he is now relinquishing the title for good.
The longtime star of the sport announced on Monday that after months of failed negotiations with UFC for his next fight — which had led to his request to be released from his contract — he will be vacating the title, leaving it up for grabs.
Just got off the phone with @Ufc, today I confirm that I’m vacating the light heavyweight championship. It’s officially up for grabs. It’s been an amazing journey, sincere thank you to all my competition, Ufc and most importantly you fans.
— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 17, 2020
The expectation is that this leads to Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz’s September 26 bout being for that vacant title, and Ariel Helwani of ESPN believes this isn’t signaling the end of Bones’ UFC career, rather the eventual shift to the heavyweight division for the star.
Breaking: A 205-pound fight between Dominick Reyes (@DomReyes) and Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) is in the works for Sept. 26. The fight is nearly agreed to, but the stakes are being worked out. UFC is working with current champ Jon Jones right now to figure out his next move. pic.twitter.com/lHy7GUfX2Q
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 17, 2020
My two cents on Jon Jones’ tweet:
He is closing the light heavyweight chapter of his career. He now spends a few months to add muscle and weight and moves up to heavyweight eventually. The question then becomes does he fight for the belt right away or a contender off the bat.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 17, 2020
Both of those things happening remains in question until they’re made official, but Jones was teasing Daniel Cormier on Twitter prior to his retirement fight against Stipe Miocic on Saturday. It’s possible Jones looks to make the move to the heavyweight class to add that belt to his list of accolades in UFC and bolster is profile as arguably the greatest ever. One would think that he could probably get a title fight if he wanted out of the gate, but might prefer to get a heavyweight bout under his belt first before challenging Miocic.