Jones, who ruled over the 205-pound weight class in two separate reigns, hasn’t been in action since a successful defense against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in 2020. Soon after, he vacated the title and expressed a desire to pursue gold in a new division.
But now well over two years later, Jones remains on the sidelines. While the explanation for that was initially a lengthy bulking phase that “Bones” underwent to prepare for heavyweight, as well as some further trouble with the law, the consensus GOAT contender has claimed to be ready to make his comeback for much of 2022.
With heavyweight king Francis Ngannou recovering from knee surgery, it seemed that the promotion was working to book Jones opposite former titleholder Stipe Miocic. And after the initially targeted September return didn’t come to fruition, reports earlier this month noted that the UFC was looking at having Jones headline UFC 282 in December.
But while the light heavyweight championship rematch between Jiří Procházka and Glover Teixeira wasn’t confirmed as the December 10 main event, creating speculation that Jones may well sit atop the card, that plan seems to have faded.
White Suggests UFC 282 Appearance Off The Table For Jones
During a recent interview with TheMacLife’s Oscar Willis, Dana White was asked about rumors of Jones’ much-awaited comeback reaching the cage at the UFC’s year-ending pay-per-view event.
But in another blow to fans hoping to see Jones bring his talents back to the Octagon before the end of 2022, White suggested that the promotion is now looking towards spring 2023 as the updated timeframe for the former light heavyweight champion’s return.
“I’m hoping that we get him (back in the Octagon) early next year,” White said. “In the spring.”
With the UFC set to host a PPV in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in January and Perth, Australia, the following month, it now appears that an outing at the standout March or April events represent the nearest comeback opportunities.
Interestingly, the report from Ariel Helwani suggested that if Jones vs. Miocic doesn’t come to fruition for UFC 282, sights will turn towards matching “Bones” against Ngannou next year.
By all accounts, “The Predator” is reaching the end of his road to recovery, and is likely to be ready for a defense early next year should the contractual dispute between the Cameroonian and the UFC be resolved.
Although Jones has previously named a date in the cage with Miocic as his preferred debut bout, it seems likely that he’ll be open to the chance to win the undisputed gold immediately, especially given the delays in a possible booking with the Ohio native.
Who would you rather see Jon Jones face in his heavyweight debut, Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou?
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