Fans haven’t witnessed Jones throwing down in the steel surroundings of a cage since February 2020. Back then, “Bones” successfully defended his title against Dominick Reyes via a much-disputed split decision.
After deciding he’d accomplished all his goals at 205 pounds, Jones vacated the belt and announced his intentions to pursue gold at heavyweight. But over two years on, a lengthy bulking-up phase, a pandemic, a public pay dispute with the UFC, and another arrest have ensured that the two-time light heavyweight king has remained on the sidelines.
This year, however, Jones has looked as close as he has to making his comeback. After a potential interim-title fight versus Stipe Miocic was rumored, Jones confirmed the Ohio native as his desired debut opponent in the division.
But after claiming that Miocic wasn’t ready for a summer return, Jones insisted he’d wait for the consensus heavyweight GOAT, naming September as a probable month. With that time period rapidly approaching, as well as pay-per-view headliners being set up until November, it appears something is causing a further delay.
According to Fight Ready coach Henry Cejudo, the answer is Miocic.
Cejudo Lays Blame For Jones’ Return Delay On Miocic
In preparation for his comeback, Jones has been utilizing the mind and talents of Cejudo at the former champ-champ’s Arizona-based gym. With that in mind, “Triple C” has a unique insight into the training and status of Jones.
And in a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Cejudo shared a sentiment Jones has said himself, insisting that the UFC veteran is ready to compete.
With that said, Cejudo noted that the ongoing delay is being caused by former heavyweight king Miocic, who “The Messenger” suggested needs to decide whether he wants to continue fighting fires outside the Octagon or lace the gloves again.
“Jon is ready, Jon has that fire that he had once again. It’s really come down to Stipe Miocic,” Cejudo said. “If he’s gonna continue to keep fighting fires, or fight. I commend him for doing things like that, but this is also the fight game and people do want the fight. If Stipe is willing to say, ‘Hey man, this is the month I want to get going,’ then Jon will oblige and sign, even though Jon is the A-side.”
Cejudo also provided an answer for those who have called for Jones to return against an opponent more immediately available — perhaps Curtis Blaydes, who “Bones” has appeared to have some animosity with.
But for “Triple C,” a bout isn’t worth Jones’ time unless some form of gold is on the line.
“Anything less than Jon Jones fighting for a belt is a slap in the face,” Cejudo stated. “Him fighting Curtis Blaydes or anyone along the line is a slap in the face to Jon Jones. Hate him or love him, he is the greatest of all time.” (h/t GiveMeSport)
Miocic has competed twice since Jones was last seen inside the Octagon, first defending the title in a trilogy fight against Daniel Cormier before losing the belt in devastating fashion opposite Francis Ngannou last March.
While the 39-year-old has found success inside the cage, his admirable activities aren’t restricted to MMA, as Miocic is an active firefighter in Oakwood, Ohio. While Cejudo, like most, clearly respects that work, he’s looking to remind Miocic that he’s still in the “fight game.”
Is Stipe Miocic the best possible opponent for Jon Jones’ heavyweight debut?