Although he was nearly everyone’s first choice to step in for Daniel Cormier to face Jon Jones at UFC 197 later this month, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson had to turn down the fight.
During a recent appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter, UFC president Dana White explained why the second-ranked light heavyweight contender isn’t fighting the former champion and current No. 1 contender at UFC 197 for the 205-pound interim title.
Jones was expected to face Johnson in the UFC 187 main event in May 2015, but “Bones” was removed from the fight card and stripped of his title after his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in Albuquerque, N.M., weeks before the scheduled event. Jones was replaced by Cormier, who defeated Johnson to capture the vacant crown.
Jones is set to return to the cage on April 23. He was originally slated to face Cormier for the title that was stripped from him, but on April 1, Cormier was forced out of the fight due to a leg injury suffered in training.
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“Obviously, the number one choice would be Anthony Johnson, who is the No. 2-ranked guy in the world, and a fight that everybody wants to see. But Anthony Johnson just had surgery on his mouth and can’t even put a mouthpiece in for at least three weeks,” explained White.
Instead, Jones will face sixth-ranked Ovince Saint Preux at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the interim light heavyweight title in the UFC 197 main event.
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