UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend his title against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 in Las Vegas on March 2, assuming that the fight is licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
That caveat is important, as Jones’ last fight had to be moved out of Nevada due to licensing issues.
Trace of Steroids Forces UFC 232 to Move
UFC 232 was held last weekend, and was originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas. But Jones tested positive for trace amounts of a steroid that he had previously been suspended for in 2017.
While experts were in agreement that the small amounts were almost certainly residual from his previous positive tests, Nevada regulators wouldn’t have been able to license Jones after the result without an emergency hearing. Instead, the UFC decided to move the event to The Forum in Inglewood, as Jones already had a license to fight in California.
Jones (23-1) won that bout against Alexander Gustafsson by third-round TKO, regaining the light heavyweight title that he had held twice before.
Licensing Decision Expected Later This Month
The next NSAC meeting is scheduled for Jan. 29, and Jones is expected to appear in an attempt to be licensed at that time. The UFC won’t make the bout official until after the results of that hearing are announced.
“Provided that license is granted, Jones will be defending his light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith in a five-round main event,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN.”
Smith (31-13) is currently ranked as the No. 3 contender in UFC’s light heavyweight division. He is riding a three-fight winning streak, having beaten Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua by first round knockout, then most recently getting past Volkan Oezdemir via a third round submission at UFC Fight Night 138 in October.
Assuming the fight goes off as planned, Jones will be a heavy favorite over Smith. Bovada already has a line for the bout, listing Jones at -600 over Smith (+400).
UFC 235 Card Filling Out
Two other fights have also been added to the UFC 235 card in recent days. No. 1 bantamweight contender Cody Garbrandt (11-2) will take on ninth-ranked Pedro Munhoz (17-3). Garbrandt is a former champion in the division, but is coming off two consecutive knockout losses to T.J. Dillashaw. Munhoz has won six of his last seven fights, last defeating Bryan Caraway by first-round TKO in November.
Also on the schedule is a title defense for welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-3-1), who will take on Kamaru Usman (14-1). Usman has now won 13 straight fights, with seven of his last eight wins coming by unanimous decision.
Meanwhile, Woodley has won his last three fights. His last victory came in December, when he defeated Darren Till by submission in the second-round in the headlining fight of UFC 228.