Provided that the Nevada State Athletic Commission is able to grant him a licence, Jon Jones will defend his recently claimed UFC light heavyweight belt for the first time at UFC 235 against Anthony Smith.
UFC president, Dana White confirmed the news to TMZ last night.
“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 2nd.
“Provided that license is granted, Jones will be defending his Light Heavyweight title against Anthony Smith in a 5 round main event at the T-Mobile Arena.”
Since making the move up from middleweight, Anthony Smith has gone on a three-fight win streak with victories over Volkan Oezdemir, Shogan Rua and Rashad Evans.
Smith is ranked #3 on the UFC light-heavyweight rankings and has been openly critical of Jones in the past, as well as more recently, claiming he was not impressed with Jones on his return against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
The pair had a tetchy exchange during the FOX broadcast following Jones’ UFC 232 victory when Jones stated he would accept a fight with Smith in July, however it seems as though Dana White and the UFC would like to push the fight through in March.
Whether the fight will go ahead or not is still up for debate as Jon Jones needs to appear before the NSAC to address the adverse drug-finding that led to UFC 232 being moved from Nevada to California on six days notice.
A December 9 test revealed low levels of a long-term metabolite of oral turinabol. It was the same steroid found in Jones’ system after an in-competition drug test for his fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in July 2017.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency ruled out any wrongdoing on Jones’ behalf and did not issue an anti-doping violation. However, the NSAC still wish to conduct a hearing into the matter.