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Jon Jones believes he should be fighting Anthony Smith instead of Alexander Gustafsson

UFC 225: Whittaker v Romero 2 Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Jon Jones may be lined up to fight rival Alexander Gustafsson this December at UFC 232, but that doesn’t mean Jones believes “Mauler” should be getting the the chance to fight him.

Instead, Jones thinks surging light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith is the one he should be fighting in his return to the Octagon. Having already defeated Gustafsson via unanimous decision back at UFC 165 in what is still considered the best 205-pound title fight of all time, “Bones” reveals he’d be more excited to challenge “Lionheart” than a rematch with Gustafsson.

“I don’t’ think either one of them are ready,” Jones said during a recent appearance of the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “I see major holes in both of their games. I think Anthony Smith may be closer to title contention. And I’ll be really excited to fight him. That’s probably who I should be fighting now as a warm-up fight over Alexander Gustafsson.”

Smith, 30, has been on fire since moving up from middleweight earlier this year. “Lionheart” has racked off three-straight victories inside of the Octagon all by way of finish. His recent submission win over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Fight Night 138 truly showed his potential at the light heavyweight level.

That said, Jones still isn’t convinced the young contender is ready to take the next step up in competition.

“I just feel like he’s definitely not ready,” Jones continued. “His last fight, he got tooled on the ground by Volkan. And Volkan is a striker. To have a striker take your back and ground and pound you from the back position for that long is just like…you get a wrestler like me on your back, dude, somebody’s gonna be looking for rear nakeds, put hooks in, somebody’s looking to really hurt you. He’s not ready.”

For now, Jones will have to ready himself for a rematch against Gustafsson. And considering “Bones” has competed just once in nearly three years he’s going to have to be at his best to capture victory in his return to the Octagon.

UFC 232 will take place on Dec. 29 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 serving as the main event.