Ronda Rousey can’t win anymore. Conor McGregor is trying to become a boxer (or a pro wrestler). Georges St-Pierre refuses to sign a new contract. Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE (and suspended from MMA anyway). The UFC is suddenly suffering from a pretty big lack of marquee names, which they need to sell pay-per-views.
Luckily, help is on the way.
On a recent episode of the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast, president Dana White revealed that he expects former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to return sometime this summer.
“Jon Jones is supposed to return around July so the timing is perfect,” White said, according to Damon Martin of FOX Sports. “I haven’t talked to him. I haven’t talked to Jon Jones since the whole incident (at UFC 200).
“Depending on where Jon’s head is and where he thinks he is, I would assume he would come right back and try to get his title back.”
His title, one that he technically never lost but rather had stripped from him, is currently around the waist of Jones’ old nemesis Daniel Cormier, who will defend the belt against Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 in April. Assuming Jones is eager to come back from his one-year suspension for a doping violation, he’s eligible to fight again by early July, perfect scheduling to fight the winner of Cormier vs. Johnson.
White dismissed the idea of giving Jones a non-title fight to shake off the ring rust, something that many people criticized Ronda Rousey for not doing before she lost her second straight title fight to Amanda Nunes.
“If you’re going to go in there and give it, at least go in and try to get your belt back,” White said. “It’s like everyone was saying Ronda (Rousey) should have had a tune up (fight). There are no tune up fights.
“When you break into the top five in the world, everybody’s nasty. What you don’t want to do is lose to somebody (ranked) 8, 9, 10. It knocks you right out of the top 10 and it doesn’t make sense.”
Jones has a history of being his own worst enemy. He was stripped of the light heavyweight title in 2015 after being involved in a hit and run accident. He won the interim belt when he returned and was set to unify to titles against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200, before he was flagged by USADA for a doping violation and pulled from the card. The UFC then stripped his interim title as well.