As rumors emerged Monday afternoon the UFC was planning a bout between top light heavyweight contenders Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz, many wondered if that meant Jon Jones' months-old statements about relinquishing the light heavyweight championship had come to fruition. By Monday evening, Jones had confirmed he had done exactly that.
"Just got off the phone with UFC, today I confirm that I'm vacating the light heavyweight championship," Jones tweeted. "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."
Jones would continue his explanation on Twitter which included his desire to move up to heavyweight upon a return to the Octagon, stating, "The last I spoke with UFC about my salary there was no negotiating. If that ever changes, I'd love to come back and compete again as a heavyweight. Until then, I'll be enjoying UFC as a fan and doing my best to take care of my family and community."
Well, it seems the circumstances changed quicker than some had maybe believed they would. Shortly after tweeting about the hopes to begin negotiations for the heavyweight jump everyone has been anticipating, Jones revealed he has already spoken with the UFC brass to begin putting those wheels in motion.
"Just had a really positive conversation with @Ufc," Jones said. "Sounds like there will be negotiations for my next fight at heavy weight. All good news, the weight gaining process begins."
In late May, escalating tensions between Jones and the UFC -- in the form of UFC president Dana White -- led to Jones calling for a bout between Reyes and Blachowicz for the title, confirming when asked that he intended to vacate the belt.
Jones had expressed interest at the time in finally moving up to heavyweight for a battle with top contender Francis Ngannou, but White claimed Jones was asking for too much money. White said Jones wanted to be paid like former boxing heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. It seemed Jones would rematch Reyes for his light heavyweight title after many fans felt Reyes had deserved the decision at UFC 247 in February, which would have been Jones' first legitimate loss in MMA.
White also pointed out that Jones was asking for an "absurd" amount of money at the worst time. The UFC has continued to hold events during the COVID-19 pandemic, but without fans in attendance, meaning the promotion is not receiving live gate revenue.
"Before even discussing numbers, the UFC was unwilling to pay more for the Francis super fight / for me to move to heavyweight," Jones tweeted on May 21. "Said I could possibly earn more in pay-per-view buys."
In another tweet on Monday, Jones stated his intention to remain in the USADA drug testing pool "in good faith" for the next six months or so.
Jones joins Henry Cejudo as recent fighters to vacate their title while still champion, with Cejudo first dropping the flyweight title to focus fully on the bantamweight division, but then vacating the bantamweight title and retiring in a shocking moment after defeating Dominick Cruz in Cejudo's first defense of the bantamweight championship. Similarly, Georges St-Pierre retired twice, once while holding the welterweight championship and a second time after winning the middleweight title.
This is the first time Jones has willing given up his title as well. He was stripped of the title in April 2015 after defeating Daniel Cormier for "violating the UFC's Athlete Code of Conduct" following a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico. He was then stripped of the belt in April 2016 following a failed drug test, and again in August 2017 for another failed test.