Jon Jones didn’t earn a finish against Ovince Saint Preux in the main event of UFC 197 Saturday night.
He did, though, set himself up for a future fight – possibly at UFC 200 – against Daniel Cormier by besting OSP and becoming the interim light heavyweight champion.
Jones (22-1) was stripped of the title following a legal run-in last year and Cormier claimed it with a victory over Anthony Johnson.
“I don’t think I want that belt,” he said, passing the interim title to his team. “It’s not the real belt.
“I want my actual belt back.”
Fighting for the first time in 15 months, Jones showed rust for the majority of the early rounds. By the time the “championship” rounds came around, though, he was back on-point.
“It took a while to pull the trigger,” Jones admitted. “I used 20-percent of my technique. But I had to get in there and get a fight out of the way.
“I was just watching, anticipating and imagining techniques landing. I wasn’t even going for it, I was just watching instead of reacting.”
Jones and Cormier were expected to meet on this night, but an injury forced Cormier off the card. “Bones” feels that was a blessing in disguise now.
“I needed that fight before fighting for my title,” he said. “My next fight, I am going to be a hell of a lot better.
“I am really excited fighting Daniel Cormier. I am so excited, I will be right back in practice Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Cormier, calling the action Octagon-side, was “flipped the bird” by Jones as he left the cage. Cormier stated that he heads to the doctor on Monday to see how healthy he is.
Last year, Jones defended the title with a decision victory over Cormier, which was the first loss of the career for the former Olympic wrestler.