Jon Jones will be back fighting in the UFC in 2018. However, he is not returning to action on the card Dana White was hoping for.
When Jones was cleared to fight again many suspected he would headline the UFC 230 card at Madison Square Garden this weekend — something that obviously didn’t come to fruition. Headlining the card instead will be Jon Jones’ arch-nemesis Daniel Cormier, who is looking to defend his heavyweight belt against Derrick Lewis.
Jones, meanwhile, is returning at UFC 232 in Las Vegas; the UFC’s end of the year card.
According to White, however, the hope was that Jones would headline UFC 230. Jones, after all, is from New York, but has never been able to fight in the state since joining the UFC.
“You know, we wanted him to be on this New York card. It didn’t work out, he wasn’t in shape,” said Dana White. “He’s in camp right now. I do believe layoffs hurt guys. But, if you look at layoffs and all the things that can be negative to a fighter, how much does it really hurt Jon Jones? He was that much better than everybody else.”
Having Jones return in his home state is exactly the kind of headliner Madison Square Garden should have gotten. So far, when the UFC has visited the famous arena, they have stacked the cards.
The promotion’s first card in New York City was headlined by Conor McGregor fighting Eddie Alvarez — the fight that made McGregor the UFC’s first two-division champion. The following year, Georges St-Pierre made his return in NYC when he won the middleweight title with a defeat of Michael Bisping.
UFC 230 is still a good card, but it doesn’t have the same big event feel to it. Especially after McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov fought at UFC 229 last month.
Do you wish Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson would have been the headliner for UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden rather than UFC 232 this December?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/1/2018.