By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After almost a year of contract dispute and weight class issues, one of the most dominant Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) practitioners the world has ever seen will be marking his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Former UFC pound-for-pound king Jon Jones will make his debut in the heavyweight division on March 5, 2023, according to multiple sources.
This will be Jones’ first fight back in the octagon since leaving the light heavyweight division after taking down Dominick Reyes last February 9, 2020.
Nolan King of USA Today Sports was the first one to release a report that Jones was already booked for the UFC event next year to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to King, the UFC has set two opponents against Jones: The first priority is reigning heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and the second option would be the heavy-hitting Curtis Blaydes.
However, the Ngannou fight will be a long shot as the Cameroonian champion expressed his plan to get out of the UFC once his contract expires next year.
Ngannou already had a long-time beef with UFC president Dana White which started when he lost his first title shot at UFC 220.
The back-and-forth didn’t end there after Ngannou called out White during a fight interview and demanded that their salaries in the UFC must receive a raise.
If the Ngannou fight will not be materialized, the UFC will be filling in Blaydes as Jones’ first opponent after leaving the light heavyweight division.
Blaydes is one of the most devastating knockout artists in the UFC and floored 12 of his 17 opponents including a momentum-boosting KO win over MMA legend Junior dos Santos two years ago.
Several months ago, fight negotiations between former champion Stipe Miocic and Jones were making noise in the MMA community but failed to take place due to some undisclosed reasons.
Are we going to see the biggest comeback in the UFC? Will Ngannou accept the challenge of facing the dominant Jones and give him a rude welcome in the heavyweight division?