Jones, who is widely considered the leading contender for GOAT status in the UFC, hasn’t been in action since February 2020. After returning to the Octagon in 2018 and regaining the light heavyweight title, “Bones” defended the gold three times against Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes.
After a tight decision victory over “The Devastator,” a result many believe should have gone the other way, Jones believed he’d exhausted all of his challengers at 205 pounds and had pretty much cleared out the division. With that in mind, he vacated the title and announced his intention to pursue championship glory at a new weight.
But his much-awaited heavyweight debut is yet to arrive. After a blockbuster showdown with champion Francis Ngannou fell through due to a public pay dispute with White and the UFC, Jones sat out the entirety of 2021.
In the meantime, fans have seen glimpses of the Albuquerque resident’s transformation through gym pictures and training footage he’s uploaded to Instagram.
White: I Don’t Know What Jones Wants To Do Next
Despite his long layoff, Jones’ social media posts, and a recent stint training at Fight Ready with former two-division champion Henry Cejudo, suggest the 34-year-old is eager to make his comeback.
Given some previous interviews and a tweet that read, “Champion 2022,” many expect Jones to challenge either Ngannou or Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight belt later this year. “The Predator” and “Bon Gamin” are set to square off this weekend in an intriguing unification clash.
In an interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Dana White suggested Jones will be watching this Saturday’s UFC 270 main event closely from home and expects him to make a statement of intent on social media following its culmination.
“He’s absolutely sitting back at home and watching, and seeing how this plays out,” White said. “I think as soon as this fight is over, either way, however, the fight ends, whoever wins will probably hear from him on social media. He might even hear from him during the fight, who knows?”
However, when asked if Jones is likely to be next for whoever emerges as the undisputed titleholder, White said he’s not yet confident enough to confirm that. In his mind, Jones’ future and next step is yet to be decided, and we could even still see the veteran return to his old stomping ground of light heavyweight.
“Yeah, I don’t feel confident saying that Jon Jones is next,” White added. “Not because I think he’s unreliable. It’s because I honestly don’t know what Jon Jones wants to do next. I think Jon’s gonna watch this fight and, you know, he’ll decide, maybe he doesn’t fight at heavyweight, maybe he goes back and tries to regain the light heavyweight championship. I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.”
With the UFC’s opening pay-per-view main event of the year already boasting a host of intriguing storyline heading into it, the idea of Jones waiting in the wings for the victor is another facet to a compelling heavyweight title fight.
Would you like to see Jon Jones face the winner of this weekend’s UFC 270 main event later in the year?