Jon Jones is still confident of making his long-awaited return to the octagon before the end of the year.
Since his last light heavyweight title defense against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in early 2020, Jones hasn't competed. Later that year, after a high-profile argument with UFC president Dana White regarding his contract situation, Jones relinquished the 205-pound belt. Jones soon declared his willingness to compete at heavyweight.
Ariel Helwani recently reported that UFC officials are targeting Jones's return for UFC 282 in December, either in a heavyweight title challenge against Francis Ngannou or in an interim title shot against former two-time champion Stipe Miocic. Since that time, Jones has been bulking up and declaring his intention to compete for the heavyweight title.
Given the schedule and the fact that Ngannou is still recovering from knee surgery, Miocic seems to be the better option. Jones recently confirmed this by announcing on Twitter that he will be preparing to fight Miocic in December, though he acknowledges the fight is far from official.
The light heavyweight title rematch between champion Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira is presently scheduled to be the main event of UFC 282, which takes place on December 10 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. If it happened, Miocic vs. Jones would probably be the main event of that fight.
Jones may decide to challenge UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou at a later time even though he has stated that he intends to fight Miocic on December 10. This is because Ngannou's coach, Eric Nicksick of Xtreme Couture, said this past weekend that an unnamed UFC executive told him the organization would "1 million percent" like to make that fight in March 2023.
“A UFC exec called and basically said, ‘Hey, what is your ideal timeline, and what is your ideal matchup?'” Nicksick told MMA Junkie Radio. “Does it matter what my opinion is? No, but it is nice that they called and asked. I said ideally I would want March, and ideally I would want Jon Jones. The person that called agreed 1 million percent that this is what (the UFC) would like, as well. That is what Francis would like. They’re calling to figure out timeline on injury and how long I would need to get him ready.”
Since losing the heavyweight championship to Ngannou at UFC 260 in March 2021, Miocic has not engaged in the competition. But a year ago, the former champion declared that if he couldn't obtain a third fight with Ngannou, he'd be open to fighting Jones.