Jones (26-1) has not been seen inside the Octagon since a successful title defense against Dominick Reyes in February of 2020. Since then, he has relinquished the title he held twice and has undergone the process of naturally bulking up to compete in the UFC heavyweight division. Although that transition was always expected to be prolonged, some failed bookings and another recent run in with the law has only extended his hiatus from action.
However, it seems that “Bones” may be closing in on his Octagon comeback, and two dates specific dates in the new year could be when we next see him. And more than likely in a matchup with the winner of the UFC 270 heavyweight title fight between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane.
Jon Jones has two dates in mind for his UFC return
“I’m looking to fight somewhere in April, possibly Madison Square Garden, or a total opposite date, possibly July at International Fight Week,” Jones told Albuqeuerque, NM TV station KRQE [h/t MMAJunkie]. “Those are the two dates that I’m kind of eying. I think it’ll depend on who wins in January between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane, and we’ll just take it from there.”
Henry Cejudo is now the wind beneath Jones’ wings
Jones, 34, has had a tumultious year in 2021. He was arrested on allegations of domestic abuse involving his long-time fiancee, and the mother of his children. And in October, he was formally kicked out of his training home Jackson-Wink MMA by his former coach Mike Winkeljohn.
Since being unceremoniously bounced from the place that helped mold him into one of the best fighters in the sport’s history, he has taken his talents to fast-growing Arizona gym Fight Ready. A place Zhang Weili trained at before her recent UFC 268 title rematch against Rose Namajunas, and where Deiveson Figueiredo is getting ready for his championship trilogy bout with Brandon Moreno at UFC 270. Jones is now calling the facility his part-time training home and views Henry Cejudo, the retired former UFC champion who trains and coaches there, as a new guiding light in his sometimes troubled life.
“It’s amazing. Henry Cejudo is amazing. He’s very family-oriented. He loves martial arts with all of his heart, and he’s a man of God, as well. We have that in common,” said Jones. “It’s just a really good thing. I really enjoy the way he’s taken me under his wing and just shown me a different way of looking at the game. Not just the martial arts game, but the game of life. We talk about happiness and being real with emotions. His coaching is more than just combat tactics. He really tries to make you the best man you can be.
“It really feels like he’s a guy that I need to be around,” he continued. “I’m excited to grow. I’m excited to be more honest with myself than ever before and just elevate to a new place. A new place not only as an athlete, but spiritually and mentally. I’m excited.”
Cejudo (16-2) won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling before moving on to a career in MMA. During his run in the UFC, the 34-year-old went 10-2 and became the third man two hold two division titles — flyweight and bantamweight — simultaneously.
What are your thoughts on the growing relationship between former two weight class king “Triple C” and MMA GOAT “Bones”?