Jones to save UFC 200?

Jon Jones has said that he will happily step in to the fill the void left by Conor McGregor’s axing from the card for UFC 200 in July.

McGregor’s welterweight fight with Nate Diaz was scheduled to be the headline act for what had been dubbed the biggest night in the promotion’s history, but the Irishman was scratched from the card after refusing to attend a promotional event, and has since announced his retirement.

A replacement is being sought, but a non-title fight involving Diaz is by no means the drawcard the UFC would have been hoping for. As a result, alternative headline acts are being considered, and Jones, who will face Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197 this weekend, has said he will step up to fight again at UFC 200 if all goes according to plan against Saint Preux.

“Absolutely, I would totally step in to UFC 200 and fill in that main event or co-main event slot,” the former light heavyweight champion asserted.

When quizzed on McGregor’s future, the pound-for-pound number one said he was not convinced that the Irishman had fought for the last time, and praised the featherweight champion for not giving in to demands which he felt were unreasonable.

“I don’t think he’s retired,” Jones said. “I don’t think he’s going to retire. Just a few days ago, he said on Instagram he’s hungry like day one. Conor is a fighter and he is a winner. I don’t think he would want to go out on a loss. I think if he doesn’t fight again, his legacy is really that Diaz fight.

“Hats off to him for standing up for what he believes is right. At the end of the day, business is business. The guy obviously has respect for himself and his talents. Fights like this will help fighters in the future. I respect his willingness to fight for what’s right.”

Jones returns to the ring on Saturday for the first time since January 2015, a period during which he’s had a number of brushes with the law, including a hit-and-run incident which saw him stripped of his title and suspended by the UFC. This week he also revealed that he battled an addiction to marijuana.

The 28-year-old has said that those issues are behind him and he’s feeling better than ever.

“I feel alive,” he said. “I feel as if I’ve grown a lot. I feel as if everything happens for a reason. We’re all on different journeys and different paths in life, and I feel happy where I am today.”