A championship rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones was made official as the UFC 214 main event, and Dana White has a backup plan in case Jones messes up again.
The UFC president told reporters Friday he will ensure No. 3-ranked light-heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa is also slated to compete on the card and will be used as a replacement should Cormier-Jones II fall apart again.
“I’ve said it a million times. I’m always worried about Jones,” White said. “I’m gonna put Manuwa on this card to make sure that in Anaheim we have a fight.”
The two fought one another back at UFC 182 in January 2015 with Jones winning a unanimous decision when he was champ. He was suspended and stripped of his title that April following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque. Cormier (19-1) won the vacant belt that May and has railed off four straight victories including a title defence over Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 in April.
Cormier and Jones were scheduled to fight back at UFC 200 in July 2016 but three days before the event Jones was flagged for a failed drug test. Jones tested positive for anti-estrogen agents clomiphene and letrozole in an out-of-competition urine test. He was subsequently pulled from the fight. Cormier wound up fighting Anderson Silva on short notice and winning a dominant unanimous decision.
Jones (22-1) was handed a one-year suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for the failed drug test. Two days after the suspension was announced, White wasn’t shy about criticizing the superstar.
“Jon Jones has blown it in every way, shape and form a guy with that much talent can blow it,” White said at the time. “Greatest talent ever and the biggest screw-up ever.”
UFC 214 takes place July 29 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. A pair of fantastic featherweight matchups (Ricardo Lamas vs. Chan Sung Jung and Doo Ho Choi vs. Andre Fili) are also expected to be on the card.