Mid-Year Forecast: The Top Five Fights Coming Up In 2021

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UFC 239 Jon Jones Rankings
Jon Jones Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press
  1. The Return of Jon Jones

In the last several months, no fighter has caused more discussion than the longtime light heavyweight champion.  Leading up to March 27, Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight looked like a done deal.  There was no indication publicly that there were any more hurdles to getting a deal done for him to challenge Francis Ngannou after Dana White said he’d had “the best conversation in years” with “Bones.”

As of this writing, Jones has shockingly appeared the furthest he has ever been in negotiations for a return to the cage.  Jones has held firm that he and the promotion are simply far apart in terms of a dollar amount for the mega fight Ngannou.  The UFC, looking to stack every pay-per-view as crowds return, has moved on and is firmly behind booking Ngannou against top contender Derrick Lewis.

Considering Jones’ status and star power in the sport, the possibility remains that the UFC could rapidly change course to book him if a deal is reached.  To possibly aid in that endeavor, Jones hired former Golden Boy Boxing CEO Richard Schaefer as an advisor to get a deal done.  With Conor McGregor is coming off a loss and Khabib Nurmagomedov retired, the heavyweight debut of Jones is the biggest event that could be put on by the promotion.  But with UFC President Dana White publicly saying he does not care if Jones fights again, there is reasonable fear that one of the biggest fights in MMA could be lost in the ether.

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