Jon Jones' manager believes the former UFC light heavyweight champion has a strong chance to return to the Octagon this year.
Appearing on a recent episode of The Luke Thomas Show on SiriusXM (h/t Adam Guillen Jr. of SB Nation's MMA Mania), Malki Kawa said Jones' camp is expecting a resolution to his drug-related suspension by the end of next month:
"By the end of this month, I think we get some clarity on the issues. We have a hearing with the California State Athletic Commission, and we're hoping to get the investigation with USADA wrapped up by then as well.
"Hopefully, it all works out that way. I got to assume that by the end of March, for a fact, we will get this resolved and get an idea of what it’s looking like. I'd like to say about a 95 percent chance [he fights in 2018]."
Jones failed an in-competition drug test leading up to his fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 last July. It was his first fight back after a 15-month absence following an out-of-competition drug-test failure in June 2016, which resulted in a one-year suspension.
The California State Athletic Commission granted Jones a stay in his case with a court date to take place at some point in February.
Per Iain Kidd of SB Nation's Bloody Elbow, Jones is facing a maximum four-year suspension if the United States Anti-Doping Agency finds him at fault for his test failure.
Jones originally defeated Cormier via third-round knockout to regain the light heavyweight title. The result, however, was overturned to a no-contest following his failed test, and the UFC awarded Cormier the championship.