Jon Jones is wasting no time getting back to work as the newly minted light heavyweight champion is expected to defend his title at UFC 235 against surging contender Anthony Smith.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the news when speaking to TMZ on Saturday with additional anonymous sources close to the situation confirming that verbal agreements are in place for the matchup.
The only caveat to the fight being finalized is Jones going before the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a hearing regarding his drug tests that still showed trace amounts of Turinabol in his system after he was suspended 15 months last year when the anabolic steroid was first found in his body. USADA refused to punish Jones a second time stating that the new drug tests were still showing residual effects from the previous incident but Jones still has to go before the Nevada Commission to receive his license to fight.
“Later this month, Jon Jones will file an application for licensure with the NSAC in order to compete at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2nd,” White told TMZ.
“Provided that license is granted, Jones will be defending his light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith in a five round main event at the T-Mobile Arena.”
Jones stated just after earning a knockout against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 that he wanted to fight at least three times in 2019. Jones was already back in the gym this week preparing for his next bout, which has now been revealed as a showdown against Smith.
Smith has earned three straight wins since moving to the light heavyweight division last year with all three coming by knockout or submission.
The former middleweight knocked out two former champions in Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Rashad Evans before earning a submission victory against Volkan Oezdemir.
Now Smith will get his opportunity to compete for the light heavyweight championship while facing arguably the greatest fighter of all time.
Smith spoke about the potential matchup earlier this week and explained why he was so confident in calling out Jones despite the fact that he’s never legitimately lost in his professional fighting career.
“I’m the only legitimate threat to Jon Jones,” Smith said. “I’m the only one that’s even got the capability of beating Jon Jones in the entire division. I think that’s gotta be next. I think I’m the next guy. There’s no one else out there who’s going to give Jon a fight. There’s no one who’s going to threaten him and there’s no one anyone else wants to see him against.”
Smith got his wish and assuming Jones is cleared to fight, they will now headline UFC 235 on March 2 in Las Vegas.