Stipe Miocic will have to wait.
Just hours after Jones teased a potential fight against the former UFC heavyweight champion, his real marching orders were unveiled: Jones is being targeted to defend his UFC light heavyweight title against Thiago Santos on July 6 at UFC 239. MMA Fighting confirmed the news Wednesday following an initial report by ESPN. Once finalized, Jones vs. Santos is expected to headline the UFC’s annual International Fight Week.
After a roller-coaster three-year stretch that saw him be suspended and stripped of UFC titles three different times for various infractions, including a pair of failed drug tests, Jones (24-1, 1 NC) appears to finally be back on track. He recaptured his long-held 205-pound title in December with a third-round TKO stoppage over Alexander Gustafsson, then successfully defended his belt with a unanimous decision over Anthony Smith at UFC 235.
In Santos (21-6), Jones faces a former middleweight who has found new life at 205 pounds. Since moving up in weight, the Brazilian slugger holds a perfect 3-0 record with KO/TKO stoppages over Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and Jan Blachowicz. In total, Santos has finished 11 of his 13 Octagon wins via KO/TKO stoppages.
UFC 239 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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