Whether you love him or hate him, Jon Jones is undisputedly one of the most talented fighters in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion, as well as mixed martial arts in general.
Jones, who has put together an impressive 26-1 record during his professional career, has been out of the octagon since successfully defending the UFC Light Heavyweight championship against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 back in February 2020.
He’s one of the most decorated fighters in the company’s history, particularly in the light heavyweight division, where he holds a handful of UFC records including becoming the youngest champion in the promotion’s history at the age of 23 and winning a record setting 14 title fights.
In August 2020, Jones relinquished his light heavyweight championship and announced that he would be moving up to Heavyweight in the future. However, as of today, MMA fans are still left scratching their heads wondering when (or if) Jon Jones will ever actually fight at heavyweight in the UFC.
According to multiple sources, the promotion has recently been attempting to put together Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic for UFC 282 in December. While it’s entirely possible these reports are accurate, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen similar reports during the past two years about the UFC trying to get Jones back into the fold.
We also have to take into account that UFC 282 is scheduled to happen in Las Vegas on December 10th, meaning the company would have less than two months to promote the return of one of the biggest names in the promotion’s history and that’s if it were announced today.
While Jones vs Miocic could ultimately happen in December at UFC 282, I think we are much more likely to receive an official announcement that night and date for Jones’ return than we are to actually see him inside the octagon.
One potential issue with Jones continuing to delay his heavyweight debut past this December is that it would likely be March at the earliest before there is another opportunity for Jones to make his return to the promotion.
Both UFC 283 and UFC 284 are scheduled to happen internationally to start 2023 for the company, with the two events occurring in Brazil and Australia respectively.
Jon Jones has never fought outside of North America during his career and has only left the United States for three fights which took place in Canada. Knowing that tidbit, you can pretty much rule out the possibility of him returning from this lengthy layoff for his first fight to occur anywhere other than the US.
March wouldn’t even be a guaranteed possibility either, with Leon Edwards recently stating there are plans for the UFC to host an event in England during that month which would see him defend his newly won welterweight championship in a rematch against Kamaru Usman. One would have to assume that event would likely be UFC 285 if it is fact in the cards.
However, it’s not entirely out of the realm of the possibility for the UFC to host multiple numbered events during the same calendar month, as we just saw this past July. So, theoretically, there is a chance that the promotion could have both UFC 285 and UFC 286 set for March, with one event booked for England and the other one here in the US.
That option would allow the promotion to host their next England event while also making room for Jones to return on the second card that would be booked for March without having to delay his return any further.
Assuming Jones doesn’t accept the Miocic fight at UFC 282, and he waits until at least March to make his heavyweight debut, he will have been out of the octagon for more than three full years at that point.
If Jones does in fact pass on returning in December and decides to wait a few more months, who are the potential options for his opponent at that point?
The promotion has long been rumored to want Jones to make his heavyweight debut against the current champion Francis Ngannou. However, for various reasons they haven’t been able to get the fight booked, and Ngannou has spent most 0f 2022 on the shelf recovering from knee surgery after his last fight in January.
The UFC also reportedly looked at this option for Jones return at UFC 282, however, Ngannou has already stated that he doesn’t think he would be healthy enough to return by that date.
Assuming Ngannou can work out his ongoing contractual issues with the company and even makes another defense of his UFC Heavyweight championship, it’s entirely possible that he could face Jones in March.
Ngannou is almost definitely a tougher opponent than a 40-year-old Miocic would be for Jones in his return, but he also presents an immediate chance for Jones to pick up another championship in a second UFC weight class, which is still pretty rarified ground in promotion history.
There also likely won’t be a better opportunity for Jones to face Ngannou than in his own return from a lengthy layoff and in his first fight back since having his knee surgically repaired.
But what if Ngannou and the UFC can’t work out their differences when it comes to a new contract, and Francis never actually fights for the promotion again?
That would still open the door for Jon Jones to make his long-awaited return in a fight that would likely be to crown the new UFC Heavyweight champion. Cyril Gane and Curtis Blaydes are the two names at the top of the contender list who would most likely receive the shot at gold against the returning Jones.
Neither of those fighters are currently booked for future fights at the moment, so the UFC could potentially be waiting to see how things play out with Ngannou’s contract situation before making any firm decisions with them.
While accepting the Miocic fight would probably give Jones his “easiest” option at the top of the division for a debut opponent at the weight class, it’s hard to argue the merits of waiting a little bit longer to receive a shot at the champion.
Especially a champion who is recovering from knee surgery and will be returning from a lengthy layoff of his own.
If Jones doesn’t fight at UFC 282, he definitely needs to try to get something arranged for the soonest possible date after for his return, as the heavyweight division is only getting more dangerous at the top with each passing day.
The longer he waits to make his comeback, the more likely it is that fighters like Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich find themselves at the top of division with already dangerous opponents like Ngannou, Gane, and Blaydes.
Do you think Jon Jones will return at UFC 282 in Decemeber? Or is it more likely that he waits for the outcome of the Francis Ngannou contract situation for a title shot? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section and be sure to vote in the poll below.
Also make sure you check out the OddSmokerMMA Early Previews for UFC 280 through UFC 285! Find out about announced fights for the events, location details, potential cards/additions, and much more!
If you enjoyed this post or like the website in general, please make sure to follow us on social media and tell your fellow MMA fans about OddSmokerMMA so we can continue to grow! All of your love and support is much appreciated!
Leave a Reply