USADA announced on Wednesday that former UFC light light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has seen a big reduction in his suspension for testing positive for banned substances after UFC 214. As a second-time offender of the USADA program, Jones could have received a 48-month suspension, but an independent arbitrator reviewed the case and reduced the suspension to just 15 months. As Jones’ positive test took place last July, he’ll be free to return to the Octagon at the end of October, perfect timing for a return at UFC 230 in his home state of New York in November. It’s possible that date could be too soon, and UFC president Dana White said he thinks a return early next year is more likely, but the fact is Jones is coming back soon and it’s great news for fans as he’s one of the most exciting fighters in the sport to watch. Who should he fight next? Here are the three most-likely options for Jones’ return opponent.
When Jones comes back, you know he’ll be pushing for a trilogy fight with DC. Jones and DC have already fought twice, with Jones taking a decision back at UFC 182 and then knocking DC out with a head kick at UFC 214. Of course, Jones lost his belt when he tested positive and DC went on to achieve greatness by getting his light heavyweight title returned to him and then gaining the heavyweight title as well. You know Jones wants to fight DC again, but the double champ has already come out and stated he doesn’t believe Jones deserves a rematch with him. Although I do think we’ll see the trilogy fight at some point, in the meantime the UFC may opt for Jones to have a rematch with another man who I will write about below.
A rematch with Alexander Gustafsson also makes a lot of sense, and “The Mauler” is already on Twitter calling Jones out for the fight. Gustafsson and Jones fought tooth-and-nail at UFC 165 in 2013 in one of the greatest fights of all time. For whatever reason, a rematch has never materialized but there’s a chance it could happen now. And it would make a lot of sense, with the winner being right in line to fight Cormier for the light heavyweight title. If this fight happens then Cormier could stay busy by fighting Brock Lesnar in the meantime. Of all the possible options, the Jones vs. Gustafsson fight would be my personal favorite as I was in attendance for the first fight and believe it’s one of the most impressive displays of mixed martial arts ever. It’s a shame the rematch has never happened but now may be the perfect time to do it as both Jones and Gustafsson are unbooked and without opponents.
Don’t completely count out Brock Lesnar as Jones’ return fight either. Even though Lesnar and Cormier seemed destined to meet after their square-off at UFC 226, it’s possible Lesnar could view Jones as a bigger fight and try to push for that fight instead. Even though Cormier is a double champ, Jones is still a bigger draw and more of an “A-side.” Lesnar vs. Cormier is an amazing fight but so is Lesnar vs. Jones. Maybe these two could fight with the winner getting the next title shot at Cormier’s heavyweight crown. What we do know is that the UFC’s ESPN deal kicks in next January and the promotion is going to want to kick off its partnership with big fights. I can’t think of a bigger fight than Lesnar vs. Jones.
Who do you want Jon Jones to fight in his return to the UFC? Leave a comment below.