Now that the UFC has a date set for its first event in New York in 21 years, the Empire State’s native son Jon Jones is being speculated a prime attraction for the Nov. 12 event at Madison Square Garden.
Yet there are a few things that need to get resolved.
For starters, Jones has a fight against Ovince St. Preux for the interim light heavyweight title lined up on April 23 at UFC 197. He was originally slated to face current champion Daniel Cormier, but with Cormier hurt he needs to clear the hurdle of OSP.
And then there’s the question of Cormier himself, who at one point said he would not face Jones in New York. As for Rochester’s own Jones, he said fighting at MSG in November would be fine by him.
"Yeah, I would be honored to main event against Daniel Cormier at Madison Square Garden," he said during a UFC 197 media call on Friday. "The question is, you know will Daniel Cormier accept that fight. Daniel Cormier has had a lot of mental struggles when it comes to me and uh…" (laughs) "…that’s just one more thing that he doesn’t need. I’m sure he doesn’t want to fight me in my backyard, because he needs all the mental breaks he can get.
"So, who knows. I doubt he’d fight me at Madison Square Garden. But like I said, I’ll fight him wherever. The Oklahoma State wrestling room, his living room, whatever."
The 28-year old Jones was stripped of his title after a 2015 hit-and-run incident in Albuquerque, and he has since been in trouble for other moving violations.
Yet in his rivalry with Cormier -- whom he defeated at UFC 182 via unanimous decision -- has only gotten more contentious in his absence. A rematch at this point has become a necessity, given the circumstances. And Cormier himself has said that he needs to defeat Jones legitimately to validate his career.
When asked what was left for him to do in his career, if there was anything approaching Cormier’s words, Jones pointed to life on the other side of the cage.
"Only thing I need to do is just right things outside the Octagon," he said. "I could never fight again and be put in the hall of fame. I’m not saying that to sound arrogant, but we all know it’s true. I have to do the right things outside the Octagon. That’s it. Nobody hearing my name in the news ever again, that’s a huge victory for me, and I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that happens.
"Outside of that, when it comes to actually fighting, I don’t really feel like I have much to prove to anybody. I’ve done some pretty amazing things in this sport, and fighting is a journey. You have your ups and downs, you have your wins and losses, and fortunately I’ve never lost. But wins and losses at this point in my life doesn’t really define who I am. I think I’m a champion the rest of my life. What goes into defining who I am is how I get my life under control outside of fighting."
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