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Dana White wanted Jon Jones to headline UFC 230, but former champ ‘wasn’t in shape’

Jon Jones will be returning to the Octagon at UFC 232 this December, but that was not the original plan.

According to UFC president Dana White in a recent interview with ESPN’s First Take, the promotion was hoping to book Jones’ return for UFC 230 this weekend in New York City. The only problem was that Jones, who is returning from a 15-month suspension for his second failed drug test, simply wasn’t ready.

“You know, we wanted him to be on this New York card. It didn’t work out, he wasn’t in shape,” said White. “He’s in camp right now. I do believe layoffs hurt guys. But, if you look at layoffs and all the things that can be negative to a fighter, how much does it really hurt Jon Jones? He was that much better than everybody else.”

Instead of having Jones lead the UFC 230 card, Daniel Cormier will take center stage and defend his UFC heavyweight title for the first time against surging contender Derrick Lewis. This comes after failed attempts by UFC to book Valentina Shevchenko vs. Sijara Eubanks and Nate Diaz vs. Dustin Poirier in the main event slot.

Jones would have loved to headline an event in New York City, but this one just wasn’t in the cards. Luckily for fight fans, the former light heavyweight champion is eager to compete under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden soon.

“It is good to be home,” Jones told a New York City crowd during yesterday’s UFC 232 press conference (video replay here). “Sorry that I’m not fighting at this event, but I promise you guys that I will fight at the Garden soon. That’s a promise even though I’ll have to pay nine percent to the government. I’ll do it.”

“We talked about fighting this weekend at MSG, but I wasn’t ready to go,” explained Jones. “I wasn’t in the shape that I wanted to be in and so we waited a few more months.”

That wait will line Jones up for a light heavyweight title rematch with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Dec. 29 from Las Vegas. It will mark the first time Jones is competing inside of the Octagon since a no contest (originally a knockout win for Jones) opposite Cormier back at UFC 214 last year.

UFC 230 will go down later tonight (Sat., Nov. 3, 2018) live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 230 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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