Jon Jones will make a quick turn around for his next title defense as he’s expected to face Anthony Smith in the main event at UFC 235 from Las Vegas on March 2.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the news late Saturday night when speaking to TMZ. Additional sources confirmed the fight was in the works with verbal agreements in place pending Jones receiving his license in Nevada.
“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,” 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 has to go before the Nevada State Athletic Commission in late January for a hearing regarding his positive drug test that showed trace elements of Turinabol in his system prior to his most recent win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
USADA has exonerated Jones of any wrongdoing, claiming that the latest positive test is a residual effect from his previous ingestion of the substance and he’s already been previously suspended 15 months for that doping violation.
Assuming Jones gets cleared, he would face Smith in the main event on March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Jones made easy work of Gustafsson in his last fight with a third round knockout to settle the score with him after their first matchup was a five round war. Following the win, Jones said he wanted to stay active with at least three fights in 2019 and obviously he’s sticking to that plan.
As for Smith, he’s gone on a tear since moving to light heavyweight with three straight wins — all by knockout or submission — including victories against former champions Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Rashad Evans.
Earlier this week, Smith explained that he was the only logical choice to get the next shot at Jones, especially considering his run through the light heavyweight division in 2018.
“I’m the only legitimate threat to Jon Jones,” Smith said. “I’m the only one that’s even got the capability of beating Jon Jones in the entire division. I think that’s gotta be next. I think I’m the next guy. There’s no one else out there who’s going to give Jon a fight. There’s no one who’s going to threaten him and there’s no one anyone else wants to see him against.”
Now Smith will get his chance assuming Jones is cleared at a meeting that is expected to take place on Jan. 29 in Las Vegas.