It appears that Jon Jones will be able to pick up right where he left off when he is able to return to active competition this summer.
According to UFC President Dana White, the Las Vegas-based promotion would be willing to grant Jones an immediate light heavyweight title shot against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim, Calif. The Jackson-Wink MMA standout is serving a USADA-mandated suspension for testing positive for the banned substances clomiphene and letrozole during an out-of-competition drug screen prior to UFC 200. He is eligible to return on July 6.
"Cormier is available to fight on July 8, but that time frame doesn't work for Jon Jones," White told ESPN.com on Monday. "Cormier already told me he's willing to fight either Jones or [Jimi] Manuwa.
"If Jon Jones is ready to fight [by UFC 214] on July 29, we'll see the Jones versus Cormier rematch, finally.”
Jones has only fought once in the last two years since defeating Cormier via unanimous decision in their first meeting at UFC 182 on Jan. 3, 2015. “Bones” was booked to rematch Cormier at UFC 197 before Cormier withdrew from the bout due to injury. They were scheduled to square off again at UFC 200, but Jones’ failed drug test nixed the bout at the last minute.
Jones was stripped of the belt and suspended by the UFC after being arrested for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, N.M., in April 2015. Cormier then claimed the vacant light heavyweight strap with a third-round submission of Anthony Johnson at UFC 187. “DC” has since made successful title defenses against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 and Johnson again at UFC 210. He also outpointed Anderson Silva at UFC 200, a non-title bout that was put together just days before the event after Jones was pulled from the card.
If Jones is ready to fight for a title at UFC 214, it is unclear where his bout vs. Cormier would land on the card. At the UFC 210 post-fight press conference, White said that Jones would not be scheduled for a main event upon his return because of his recent unreliability.
Manuwa, meanwhile, has won three of his last four bouts, including back-to-back knockout victories over Corey Anderson and Ovince St. Preux. The British slugger and Cormier have engaged in a few verbal sparring sessions on Twitter recently.
"Jimi wants Cormier," White told ESPN. "They got into it at UFC 210 and Jimi told me he's never been talked to like that before. We'll see how this plays out.”