Chael Sonnen has declared himself the UFC light-heavyweight champion by default.
According to Sonnen, the failure of Jon Jones to accept him as a stand-in opponent for the headline fight of UFC 151 means that he has surrendered the title.
“When I decided to go after the light heavyweight championship, I knew that I'd win it like I always do. I just didn't know it would be by forfeit. But I do stand before you today the light heavyweight champion,” he sarcastically told Bleacher Report.
“The fight's going to happen sooner or later. It's not like I'm not going to beat this guy up. It's just a matter of when… This was his biggest opportunity. There's no question I could beat Jon Jones. Jon Jones can beat me too. But I can beat him.
“If you ever wanted to stack the deck in his favor, you'd have done it on September 1. You'd have called me out of the blue, switched weight classes on me, put me on a plane to do a press tour, put me everywhere in the world except in the practice room.
That was the opportunity he had. I could have beaten him, but he could have beaten me too. The next time we meet up, when I've had a camp and my coaches around me, that's not going to be the case.”
According to UFC president Dana White, the UFC yesterday thought that they still had a main event in place because Jones’ acceptance of Sonnen stepping in was considered a formality. But when Jones refused to accept Sonnen as a stand-in, the UFC was forced to cancel the whole event and “take a massive financial hit”.