According to mercurial UFC President Dana White, former light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones will get first dibs at the 205-pound crown once his one-year (USADA) suspension has been lifted (which is July of this year).
“Jon Jones is supposed to return around July so the timing is perfect. I haven’t talked to him. I have not 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,” White said.
Now, cast your minds back to November of 2016 when White told the world’s media:
“I would never take the risk of headlining a show with Jon Jones again,” White said. “I’d put him on the card. But I wouldn’t headline with him until he consistently gets back on track.”
Is Jones back on track?
Anyhow, fast-forward to Feb. 1, 2017; White’s now singing a harmony that doesn’t tally with the aforesaid melancholic premise.
Said words of White are sort of reminiscent of a once world famous leader:
19 years ago, former United States President-elect, Bill Clinton uttered the now infamous words – “[I] did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
Six months later, the ex-President would retract his earlier denial, and admit to his indecorous behaviour – “[I]ndeed I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate….”
Ok! History lesson is over – schools out.
White’s reasons for handing the serial offender yet another stab at UFC glory were as follows:
“The problem with this sport, there is no light one. If you’re going to go in there and give it, at least go in and try to get your belt back. It’s like everyone was saying Ronda 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. 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.”
In 2011, at just aged 23, Jones became the youngest ever champion in UFC history when he captured the light heavyweight strap against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 – it’s a record which still stands today.
Now 29, Jones would go on to amass eight successful title defenses, thus surpassing the previous record of five, at the time, held by Tito Ortiz.
The Jack-Wink product’s last title defense was a unanimous decision victory over arch-nemesis, and incumbent champ Daniel Cormier. Three months later the UFC brass stripped Jones of his title for a hit-and-run offense, as well as handing down an indefinite suspension.
Following his re-instatement in Oct. 2015, the following year at UFC 197, Jones faced Ovince Saint Preux for the interim light heavyweight belt – winning via unanimous decision.
Jones was tapped to headline UFC 200 alongside Cormier in a unification bout, but was pulled from the card after testing positive for two banned substances.
As White has stated, Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) is likely to face the winner of the title rematch between Cormier vs. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, which is scheduled for Apr. 8, 2017 at UFC 210.