JON JONES is ready to make his long-awaited return to the UFC after a near two-and-a-half-year hiatus.
The former pound-for-pound king hasn’t set foot inside the octagon since his hard-fought victory over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.
Jones’ hiatus has in part been down to a contract dispute with the UFC brass – as well as his concerted effort to slowly bulk up for his long-awaited move up to heavyweight.
But after missing some of the prime years of his career, Bones is ready to get back into the cage.
The 34-year-old’s advisor, Richard Schaefer, recently told SunSport: “He’s been training, he’s been extremely smart about how to bulk up and have the right weight and do it in an intelligent way.
“Not just eating a lot but actually gaining muscle mass.
“He has been really amazing about it; I’ve never seen anything like it.
“He’s ready to fight, he’s ready to fight.”
Jones had set his sights on a historic showdown with reigning heavyweight king Francis Ngannou but the Predator himself is embroiled in a contract standoff with the UFC.
Ngannou’s future with the promotion is currently up in the air as his contract expires in December and he’s seemingly set on a transition to boxing.
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Jones, however, isn’t content to wait around for Ngannou to come to terms with the UFC.
Schaefer said: “We don’t want to wait a year for Francis is going to be able to fight, if ever.”
A summer showdown with two-time heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is understood to be in the works for Jones, although it’s currently unknown if an interim title will be on the line.
But Schaefer would advise former light-heavyweight king Jones to take it should it be offered.
When pressed on Jones’ willingness to fight for an interim belt, Schaefer said: “That’s a good question.
“I’ll have to see how this plays out; the situation between Francis and the UFC. How does that play out?
“I’m always the firm believer that athletes should [compete]. Because the clock is ticking, they don’t get younger.
“The goal is to fight for the world title, let’s face it. But sometimes, you need to maybe take a little step back.
“So if it means you need to fight for an interim title to see how this whole situation with Francis plays out on a legal side and on his injury side, then that is certainly something I would recommend to Jon.”
Jones was given the green light to return last December when he accepted a plea deal in a domestic battery case against him in Nevada.
The domestic battery charge was dropped and Jones pled nolo contendere to “destroying the property of another.”
Court records show he was ordered to pay £562 in restitution to his alleged victim, told to undergo anger-management counseling and instructed to stay out of trouble.
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