Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz are out. Jon “Bones” Jones and Daniel Cormier are in.
Jones will fight Cormier in a light heavyweight unification title match at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White announced on Wednesday.
The announcement is the latest wrinkle in the ongoing back-and-forth between McGregor and White, who pulled the Irish fighter from the event after he refused to take part in promotional work. Jones’ return to the octagon comes after he’d returned from a year-long absence to fight Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197 last weekend. Jones won that fight on a unanimous decision, and now he will take on Cormier—who Jones previously beat in January 2015.
Jon Jones is BACK! His win over OSP is his 13th straight, good for the longest active undefeated streak in UFC. pic.twitter.com/HWzjsoNRMe
— ESPN (@espn) April 24, 2016
Putting Jones-Cormier on the UFC 200 schedule may finally put an end to the PR battle between McGregor and White. But how did it even get to this?
Timeline: McGregor, White, and UFC 200
April 19, 2:29 p.m. ET: McGregor posts on his Twitter account that he has “decided to retire young,” sending shockwaves through the MMA world. McGregor does not clarify his post at the time, leaving others to speculate about what he means and what might happen.
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya's later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
Diaz, then McGregor’s presumptive opponent at UFC 200, pokes fun at McGregor, saying he would retire too.
April 19, 7:52 p.m. ET: White announces on ESPN’s SportsCenter that McGregor will not be fighting Diaz at UFC 200. White says McGregor did not want to take part in certain promotional duties for the fight, which prompted White to pull McGregor from the match.
BREAKING: Conor McGregor will not compete in UFC 200. pic.twitter.com/u7SN5B5ICL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 19, 2016
April 21: In a defiant message posted on his social media accounts, McGregor reveals that he is not retiring, slamming UFC over his promotional duties and saying he got “lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting.” McGregor writes that he is coming for his “revenge” against Diaz, who beat him the first time the two fought.
I am just trying to do my job and fight here. I get paid to fight … https://t.co/xW1P3G2710
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 21, 2016
April 25, 1:46 a.m. ET: McGregor tweets in the early morning hours that he is “BACK on UFC 200,” thanking White and UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta for making it happen. One problem? It isn’t true. Neither UFC, White, nor Fertitta confirms McGregor’s reinstatement.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 25, 2016
April 25, afternoon: White tells Yahoo! Sports that he has not spoken with McGregor about returning for the event, but that Diaz would remain on the card.
April 25, evening: Later that same day, Diaz says he only wanted to fight McGregor, and not any other opponent, at UFC 200. Diaz tweets that he is planning a vacation.
So will there ever be a McGregor-Diaz rematch? The UFC likely would make a boatload of money if they can get McGregor and Diaz back in the Octagon.
One thing is certain though: It won’t be at UFC 200.