White: Jones Will Get July Title Shot, If Ready
Jon Jones has met no equal in the cage since his reign as light-heavyweight champion, but has been kept sidelined due to his own actions. As his one-year suspension nears a finish, Jones is eying the opportunity to regain the belt that his rival Daniel Cormier now holds.
UFC President Dana White told ESPN on Monday that Jones will get an immediate title shot and rematch Cormier — assuming that Jones is ready to jump right into a title fight.
There have been talks that Jones may choose an easier matchup in his return fight, a "tune-up" fight of sorts to shake off the rust before he attempts to regain his belt. He has not fought in over a year, last beating Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision at UFC 197 in April of 2016. That performance came after another year-plus layoff for Jones, and the performance was one of his most underwhelming in recent years. He dominated Saint Preux, but appeared tentative and unable to pull the trigger throughout the five round fight.
If Jones does take a tune-up fight, Cormier will instead defend the title against Jimi Manuwa. The British striker knocked out Corey Anderson last month and got into a heated exchange with Cormier following the champion’s win of Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 last week.
The fight, either the Jones vs. Cormier rematch or a Cormier defense against Manuwa, is tentatively scheduled for July 29 at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California. The UFC’s big summer pay-per-view is July 8 in Las Vegas, but the timeline did not work out with Jones’s suspension for the fight to happen on that date.
"Cormier is available to fight on July 8, but that time frame doesn’t work for Jon Jones," White told ESPN. "Cormier already told me he’s willing to fight either Jones or Manuwa.
"If Jon Jones is ready to fight [by UFC 214] on July 29, we’ll see the Jones versus Cormier rematch, finally."