It has been more than one year since former Light Heavyweight Jon Jones competed inside the Octagon, scoring a brutal knockout over rival Daniel Cormier at UFC 214. But, Jones once again blew up his pre-fight drug test and the bout was later ruled a “No Contest.” Jones — no stranger to failed drug tests — has since been suspended from mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. In fact, “Bones” is still awaiting a ruling from United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as to how much longer he will be forced to sit on the sidelines.
And even though the maximum length is a four-year suspension, speculation — and even hateful, reckless accusations — has run rampant that Jones will somehow return to the Octagon in late 2018. Former Jones rival and current ESPN MMA analyst, Chael Sonnen — who Jones demolished more than five years ago at UFC 159 — is the latest industry insider who thinks that mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will see Jones return to action sooner than later.
From Sonnen’s “Beyond the Fight” podcast (transcription via BloodyElbow.com):
“If we are to believe that he is going to be out until summer of next year, which is the minimum that he would be out by the rules that have been explained to us, you would have to ask yourself, ‘Why is he training and putting out videos, and having coaches confirm that he is working now in August?’ It just does appear that Jon at least believes that he is about to be cleared and put onto that November card.”
Sonnen is undoubtedly talking about this. Or maybe it was this. Nevertheless, he is not alone in his belief that we could see Jones back in the cage before the end of this year. The company is looking to book a marquee pay-per-view (PPV) main event for UFC 230, which will be held inside Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Nov. 3, 2018. One that will hopefully entice this guy, among others, to get excited about the blockbuster event.
It would certainly be a coup for UFC, which finally got another big PPV draw, Conor McGregor, back on the beat one month prior when “Notorious” returns after a two-year mixed martial arts (MMA) layoff to battle Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
How or why that would make sense when other governing bodies are involved is unknown, but we still have a few short months to hopefully figure this out once and for all. Indeed, Jones remains mired in a confusing situation. His USADA disciplinary action has yet to be finalized and “Bones” still hasn’t gone through his final stage of arbitration. That means something is going on behind the scenes that we aren’t privy to and the Jones team continues to deny any intentional cheating. In the meantime, his license will remain revoked by California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) until USADA wraps this up.
The tests, meanwhile, keep on coming and coming.