Jon Jones Can Return This Year, But Who Should He Fight?

USADA ruled Wednesday night that former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will be cleared to return to the Octagon in late October, handing him a 15-month suspension retroactive to his 2017 failed drug test.

Jones could have faced up to four years on the sidelines, but instead, was granted an early release for his willingness to cooperate. You will remember that the fighter failed a drug test ahead of his bout with Daniel Cormier, which he won and was subsequently changed to a no-contest.

Since that time, Jones has remained steadfast that he would be cleared and allowed to compete sooner rather than later.

And that is exactly what happened.

Whether he helped USADA find other fighters who were taking banned substances, reported on a business giving them out or whatever the reason behind it all, the UFC and MMA fight fans world-wide can be happy that we will get to see one of the greatest of all-time fight again soon.

But that leads to the next question. Who should Jon Jones face?

His suspension will conclude just before the UFC returns to New York City in November for an event that is currently without a headline act. The card has Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold, and while that is a big-time fight in and of itself, the addition of Jones would definitely overshadow it.

A native of New York, the likelihood that Jones would be paired up with Cormier for the belt on short notice and with “DC” insisting on waiting to face Brock Lesnar next seems very, very unlikely.

Plus, Cormier has already stated he believes Jones needs to prove himself to be a clean fighter before getting another crack at the title.

Cormier also has the heavyweight belt, so putting Jones up for that title isn’t possible either.

Would a rematch between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson be a smart move? Sure, but we haven’t heard much from Gustafsson lately as he has been battling injuries.

Volkan Oezdemir, Ilir Latifi, Jan Blachowicz and Jimi Manuwa round out the UFC light heavyweight Top-5, and there is no chance of one of those men being pitted against Jones one would believe.

But how about the heavyweight ranks and a certain former champion?

Stipe Miocic dropped the title to Cormier earlier this year and was seeking an immediate rematch. With the UFC still hoping to resign Lesnar and pit him vs. Cormier, wouldn’t Miocic taking a fight in New York City vs. Jones be just as big of bout for the Cleveland native?

You bet your bottom dollar it would be.

Jones has flirted with fighting at heavyweight, and while he has said 205 is where he will be, there just isn’t many good options for him there. Miocic isn’t a huge heavyweight by any means and could really play the “good guy” card vs. the returning Jones and his “heel” persona in the build.

“It’s difficult to express myself at this moment but I can definitely say my heart is filled with gratitude and appreciation. I want to thank all of you who have stood by me during the toughest stretch of my life. It has meant the world to me and always will. But now is the time to shift the focus front and center to the road ahead. Greatness is what I’m chasing and the path to reclaiming my throne is now officially open. Comeback Season begins now.”

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