Jon Jones to Fight Anthony Smith at UFC 235

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2019

INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Jon Jones looks on during a Light Heavyweight titlebout  against Alexander Gustafsson of Sweden during the UFC 232 event inside The Forum on December 29, 2018 in Inglewood, California.   Jones defeated Gustafsson by KO.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Jon Jones already has his next opponent lined up.

According to TMZ Sports, he'll face Anthony Smith at UFC 235 in March, though it will be contingent upon the Nevada State Athletic Commission allowing the fight.

"Later this month, Jon Jones will file an application for licensure with the NSAC in order to compete at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 2," UFC President Dana White told TMZ. "Provided that license is granted, Jones will be defending his light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith in a five-round main event at the T-Mobile Arena."

Jones, 31, returned from a 15-month suspension for his second violation of the UFC's anti-doping policy at UFC 232, defeating Alexander Gustafsson by a third-round TKO. That moved Jones to 23-1-1 for his career, a reminder that the UFC superstar was once considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and is perhaps capable of recapturing that prestige. 

But outside of the Octagon, Jones has run into issues. Alongside receiving two suspensions for failed drug tests during his UFC career, he's also had numerous legal and professional issues, per the Associated Press (h/t SI.com):

"Jones tested positive for cocaine use in 2015, later publicly acknowledging that he used the drug. His checkered history also includes an arrest after a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico in which he broke a pregnant woman's arm in 2015, a scuffle with Cormier in a casino lobby while promoting a bout in 2014, and an arrest for driving under the influence after he crashed his Bentley into a pole in 2012."

Jones' issues may not be completely in the past. As TMZ noted, Jones "tested positive for tiny traces of the anabolic steroid Turinabol just days before UFC 232—but the Nevada Athletic Commission couldn't convene for a hearing on such short notice."

The UFC instead consulted the California State Athletic Commission, which determined that the positive test was the remnants of a previous test and did not indicate that Jones used the drug in the lead-up to his December fight with Gustafsson. The United States Anti-Doping Agency also determined that Jones was eligible to fight.

It seems likely he'll be cleared to face Smith as well. The 30-year-old Smith is 31-13 in his career and currently considered the No. 3 contender in the light heavyweight division. He'll be gunning for Jones' title, aiming to become just the second man to beat Jones.

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