Former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will finish serving his 15-month suspension for testing positive for anabolic steroids on October 28. When news of his pending reinstatement came out, there was a lot of speculation about who his first opponent was going to be.
Current UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who was awarded the title after Jones was suspended, was expected to be his first opponent. However, an injury and a scheduled fight with Brock Lesner in January made a fight between Jones and Cormier unrealistic.
UFC president Dana White told reporters that a Cormier and Jones fight doesn’t make sense at the moment because Jones hasn’t fought in over a year and needs to get back in shape before he can challenge the champion. Instead, he decided to schedule a rematch between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
“Obviously, he’s talking about coming back,” White said. “And you know what he’s thinking about doing and what he wants to accomplish in his return. But first, he’s got to get in shape. The guy hasn’t fought in a while, so we are looking at, hopefully, Dec. 29.”
The first fight between the two men ended in a unanimous decision for Jones and is considered one of the best fights in UFC history. Since the fight, Gustafsson, who has been looking for a rematch, felt Jones was ducking him.
Now that Jones is back and isn’t going to be able to fight Cormier, Gustafsson called him out in an attempt to get him to agree to a rematch.
“@jonnybones, you are pissing me off!”Gustafsson wrote on Instagram with a Photoshopped picture of Jones’ head on a chicken’s body on a milk carton. “I signed my agreement. Where are you?? Are you chickening out again?? Stop being a coward! #chicken #signthecontract #scared”
Gustafsson’s taunting apparently worked because Jones agreed to fight the Swede at UFC 232 on December 29.
Even though Gustafsson got the fight he has wanted for years, he has to be careful about what he wishes for because he has faced a few obstacles since the loss to Jones in 2013.
After their fight, Gustafsson lost two of his next three fights, one of which was against Cormier, who is expected to fight the winner of the fight between Jones and Gustafsson. Since 2016, Gustafsson only fought once, which means he will be going into this fight just as rusty as Jones.
Injuries are another factor to consider because Gustafsson has dealt with injury problems since he last faced Jones. In fact, a 2014 fight between Jones and Gustafsson was canceled because he picked up an injury during training, which opened the door for Cormier to get the title shot instead.
Despite working his way back to the top of the contenders’ list, a loss to Jones in December will hurt his chances of getting a title shot anytime soon because it will be his third loss in his last five fights and drop him down the contender’ list.
If Gustafsson defeats Jones, he will have to defend his newly won title against Cormier, who wants to fight the winner before he retires from the sport next year.
For Jones, a loss to Gustafsson won’t have much of a negative impact because it will be his first loss since his DQ loss to Matt Hamill in 2009, and since he is still one of the biggest draws in the sport, he will get another opportunity to fight for the light heavyweight belt in the future.
One thing is for sure, this will be one of the biggest UFC fights of the year.
Read also: UFC 232: Jones vs Gustafsson 2 Odds