Will Jon Jones fight in 2022? The clock is ticking.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion has been sidelined since early 2020, but is still hopeful to make his heavyweight debut on Dec. 10 at UFC 282, MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani reported Monday on The MMA Hour.
Jones is currently motivated and actively training, Helwani reported, and the UFC is hopeful to get “Bones” back for UFC 282 as well. The promotion’s current lead choice of opponent remains a title bout between Jones and heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, although it is unlikely Ngannou will be ready for the year-end date between his continued rehabilitation from knee surgery and his ongoing contractual negotiations with the UFC.
In that case, an interim title bout between Jones and former champion Stipe Miocic is expected to be the promotion’s back-up plan, however that too remains up in the air in regards to whether a deal gets done in time for Dec. 10, Helwani reported. If it fails to come together, the UFC will likely pivot to UFC 285 in March for a targeted date for Jones’ return.
Jones, 35, has spent more than two years bulking up to compete in the heavyweight division after vacating his light heavyweight belt in May 2020 following a controversial decision win over Dominick Reyes. While he is widely considered one of the greatest fighters of all-time, “Bones” has been embroiled in many controversies outside of the cage as well, including a domestic battery case in late 2021 stemming from an alleged incident in Las Vegas following his UFC Hall of Fame induction for his first fight with Alexander Gustafsson.
UFC 282 already currently features a light heavyweight rematch between UFC champion Jiri Prochazka and former titleholder Glover Teixeira, which will likely serve as the card’s main event if neither Ngannou vs. Jones nor Miocic vs. Jones is finalized ahead of Dec. 10.
Watch the full update on Jones’ current status above, courtesy of The MMA Hour.