The UFC 197’s main event will be headlined by former light heavyweight champion and current pound-for-pound king Jon Jones competing for the interim division title against top-ranked contender, Ovince Saint Preux.
Jones, who returns to the Octagon from a 16-month layoff was supposed to do a rematch against current champion Daniel Cormier, who captured UFC gold after Jones was stripped of his title due to legal issues last year. Cormier was forced to withdraw from his main event title fight with Jones due to an injury and shortly afterward Preux was announced to be stepping up for the biggest fight of his life.
Cormier is reported to have suffered an interosseous membrane injury to the left leg. Hisphysical therapist Kevin Nicholson revealed to BloodyElbow.com earlier this month, “The interosseous membrane holds the fibula and tibia together. It is a thick structure extending between the tibia and fibula bones of the leg, and runs nearly the entire length between the 2 bones as shown in the picture below.”
However, Jones, who was in Bristol, Connecticut on Monday doing an ESPN car wash, casted doubts over Cormier’s injuries in his interview with MMAFighting.com saying that Cormier instead was finding a way to avoid a fight with him.
“You know, it’s hard to say. I wasn’t there in the workout room with him when he got injured I’ll say. But, there’s been lots of rumors that he was hurt, not injured. And to drop the fight being ‘hurt,’ it just makes no sense. My body, I have aches and little nooks and crannies all over my body, but it’s the cost of being an elite level athlete. You fight through that stuff.”
Jones was answering questions about his old nemesis, about whether he would likely face Cormier at Madison Square Garden in his native New York at UFC 205 in November. He reiterated that he wasn’t sure Cormier would sign off on something like that.
“Daniel Cormier is this guy who, he’s lost to me in the past [at UFC 182], and he’s a guy who instead of just accepting that I was a better fighter than him — and I am a better fighter than him — he comes up with a lot of excuses,” Jones told Hannah Storm. “He’ll say things like, ‘oh, it’s my first time fighting at this weight class, so I wasn’t ready for the change in my body.’ Or, ‘it was such a big fight, I guess I was a little nervous.’ Or, ‘I couldn’t train with Cain Velasquez, my number one training partner, so that’s why I lost.’”
“So these are just signs that show me, you know, he’s mentally reaching for answers as to why he can’t beat me. To fight in my backyard in New York state, I think it would mentally be a huge disadvantage for him. I don’t think he’s mentally strong enough to take that type of risk.”
UFC 197 takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and prior to the PPV main card, FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass carry the prelims. You can check all about the event here:
Jones vs. Saint Preux
Date: April 23, 2016
Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
UFC 197 Fight Card
Main Card (on PPV):
Jon Jones (21-1) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (19-7)
Demetrious Johnson (c) (23-2-1) vs. Henry Cejudo (10-0)
Anthony Pettis (18-4) vs. Edson Barboza (16-4)
Robert Whittaker (16-4) vs. Rafael Natal (21-6-1)
Yair Rodriguez (7-1) vs. Andre Fili (15-3)
Preliminary Card (on FS1):
Sergio Pettis (13-2) vs. Chris Kelades (9-2)
Danny Roberts (12-1) vs. Dominique Steele (14-6)
Carla Esparza (11-3) vs. Juliana Lima (8-2)
Glaico Franca (14-3) vs. James Vick (7-0)
Preliminary Card (on UFC Fight Pass):
Walt Harris (7-4) vs. Cody East (12-1)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (13-3-1) vs. Clint Hester (11-5)
Efrain Escudero (24-10) vs. Kevin Lee (11-2)
Main Card on Pay-Per-View: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
Preliminary Card on FOX Sports 1: 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT
Preliminary Card on UFC Fight Pass: 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT
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