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Jon Jones to fight Anthony Smith at UFC 235 ... if Nevada will license him

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Jon Jones is serious about keeping active in 2019.

A report from TMZ Sports claims Jones will return to the Octagon sooner rather than later to defend his light heavyweight title against Anthony “Lionheart” Smith. The contest is said to be taking place at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2nd, 2019.

There’s one big hoop for the UFC and Jones to jump through, though: the whole thing is contingent on the Nevada State Athletic Commission clearing him to fight.

“Later this month, Jon Jones will file an application for licensure with the NSAC in order to compete at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2nd,” UFC president Dana White said. ”Provided that license is granted, Jones will be defending his Light Heavyweight title against Anthony Smith in a 5 round main event at the T-Mobile Arena.”

After picogram amounts of a long term Oral Turinabol metabolite showed up in Jon Jones’ USADA tests, the NSAC refused to give Jones the go ahead for his fight with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 without a hearing. That pushed the UFC to pick up their event and move it across state lines to Los Angeles, where the California commission was ready to okay the troubled champ without any extra red tape. The UFC and USADA both agreed the metabolites were most likely left over from a previous incident that Jones had already served a suspension over.

Also interesting is the choice in opponents. After defeating Gustafsson in the second round of their fight and winning the vacant light heavyweight title, Jon Jones called out his nemesis, Daniel Cormier.

”I know there’s a guy who’s been calling himself champ-champ, aha!” Jones told Joe Rogan in the cage. “I mean ... what guy just gives up his belt because someone comes home? Daddy’s home, DC. Prove to the fans you’re the champ-champ. Come get a taste. I’m here. Get your belt back.”

Now it seems first crack at Jones and his 205 pound championship will go to Anthony Smith. “Lionheart” had a big 2018, fighting four times and finishing Rashad Evans, “Shogun” Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir. Even with those wins, he’s still considered less of a challenge than Cormier, and less of a draw. For whatever reason, the UFC and Jones have decided to go with Smith as the next challenger rather than set up what would amount to a superfight with heavyweight champion “DC.”

Now we have to wonder what will be next for Cormier in the meantime.