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Manager says, the UFC should not have stripped Jon Jones of his belt

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Jon Jones' manager Malki Kawa feels the punishment for the UFC's former light-heavyweight champion has been handed down too early.

When cocaine metabolites were found in Jon Jones' blood in January, many felt, the UFC light-heavyweight champion might have gotten away with it too easy. Now, after an alleged felony hit-and-run, not only has he been suspended indefinitely by the UFC, he lost big-time sponsor Reebok and has been stripped of his title. That's too much punishment, too early, says Jones' manager Malki Kawa.

"Jon Jones won that belt inside the Octagon," Kawa told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Nobody beat him for the belt. That's just one case in itself. But on the other hand, we're jumping to a lot of conclusions. We haven't let things play out. He hasn't had his day in court and I don't think it's OK to just hand punishments down like that. But I do definitely understand where the UFC, sponsors and everyone is coming from. I can totally understand."

What Kawa can't understand, though, is that the UFC decided to take away his client's belt, before he even entered a court room.

"I think we totally accepted the suspension," Kawa said. "I thought they had to do it. I agreed when they handed it down. I just don't know that indefinite was the right thing to do, per se. And I definitely just don't agree with the belt being stripped, because if this gets resolved in the next 60 to 90 days, then what? Now you're saying, 'Well, now you're reinstated.' Then what? To me, I just felt like it shouldn't have been to that degree. But again, I'm coming from a more biased place than maybe everyone else is coming from."

The main problem with stripping Jon Jones of his title, Kawa says, is, that whoever wins the belt now, can't be considered the real champion.

"If you're Daniel Cormier and you win this belt, right, and you go parading around the world and you're this and you're that, do you think anyone on the face of this Earth can actually take you serious?" Kawa said. "It would be such a joke at that point."

Cormier, who Jones has beaten decisively in January, is set to face Anthony "Rumble" Johnson for the now vacant title at UFC 187 on May 23.