UFC President Dana White announced Wednesday night that the new main event for UFC 200 on July 9 will be the heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt.
The announcement came after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Jon Jones of a potential anti-doping violation stemming from an out of competition test on June 16. With insufficient time for a full review of Jones’ case before his main event bout against UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, Jones was removed from the card.
“It’s super, super disappointing,” White said during a hastily called press conference at MGM Grand. “It was a brutal phone call.”
White then had another brutal call to make, as he had to ask Cormier to meet him at 8 p.m. PT to give him the news.
“I had a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach,” Cormier said. “To hear something like this is very sad from a competitive and financial standpoint. I don’t know exactly to explain how I’m feeling right now.
“I’m just very disappointed,” he continued. “I’ve worked really hard to prepare for this. You take care of what you can take care of and that’s what I did. More than anything, I’m really disappointed.”
With only a few days before fight night and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva in transit to Las Vegas, there is no word on a possible replacement to face Cormier on short notice, but White wouldn’t be opposed to having someone step in under the right circumstances.
“This is devastating to Daniel Cormier in every way it could possibly be,” White said. “It stings real bad for him. I’d like to make a fight for him if I can.”
Said Cormier, “I’ve trained hard and long. And if anyone would fight, I’d fight. But if it doesn’t make sense for the organization or for me, then it doesn’t make sense. So I really don’t know what’s next. It’s very difficult to ask someone to come into this situation.”
As for Jones, a legal review process will be afforded to him before sanctions, including the ability to test his B sample. Cormier, who has been feuding with the interim 205-pound titleholder since long before their first bout in January 2015, is coming to grips with the idea that his chance to avenge his last loss may not happen anytime soon, if ever.
“This chapter in my life had been dragging me and it’s made me ugly,” he said. “I have to move forward and start to clear my mind in regards to him.”
And while White was obviously not happy with the latest turn of events, only days before the biggest show in company history, his commitment to keep the sport clean is stronger than ever.
“We have the best program in all of sports,” White said. “This is the way it should be.”
Despite his disappointment, Cormier refused to throw stones at Jones, focusing instead on his own growth.
“I’m just here to fight and try to be an example for kids to look up to,” he said. “If you do the right thing and be nice to people and care about people, people will care about you. I’ve made my mistakes, I’m trying to do things the best way that I can.”
Lesnar vs. Hunt will remain as a three-round bout, White said.