UFC president, Dana White has provided an update on the fighting future of former light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, claiming that the Rochester native could return to the Octagon this summer, or could never fight again, amid ongoing negotiation woes with the promotion.
Jones, who is set to make his long-awaited leap to the heavyweight ranks, is also expected to miss out on an immediate title tilt against Francis Ngannou, following ongoing struggles to strike a financial deal with the promotion to tackle the Cameroon-born knockout artist.
Relinquishing his light heavyweight championship last August, which he had laid claim to twice, Jones was initially earmarked by White himself as the next challenger to the heavyweight title following the March rematch between Stipe Miocic and Ngannou at UFC 260, however, the #2 ranked, Derrick Lewis is expected to challenge for gold instead this August.
UFC leader, White had claimed that Lewis is the rightful and deserving contender to the heavyweight championship, while in the same breath, claimed that Jones had asked for a guaranteed fee of $30 million to challenge Ngannou, which Jones disputed.
White detailed that Jones would let the promotion know when he was ready to fight again, and despite suggesting a heavyweight debut for him against the aforenoted, Miocic, Jones distanced himself from that potential pairing.
Speaking with media assembled following UFC 262 last weekend in Houston, Texas — White claimed that while Jones is the current greatest of all time in his opinion, his Octagon future remains uncertain.
“If Jon Jones wants to fight again he can, if he doesn’t he doesn’t have to,” White said. “Nobody is going to force Jon Jones to fight. He’s had a great run, he’s got an incredible legacy. I personally see him as the GOAT right now. You’ve got guys that are nipping at his heels like (Kamaru) Usman and some other guys there. It’s up to him. He can fight again this summer or he can never fight again. I mean that’s up to him.“
Whilst Jones has never hinted at a possible step away from professional mixed martial arts, the fact that himself and the promotion appear to be at loggerheads in regards to a financial package, would suggest a prolonged period of inactivity could be on the horizon.
Relinquishing the title last August, Jones’ last Octagon outing came in February of last year, scoring a close, razor-thin unanimous decision win over challenger, Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 also in Houston, Texas.