At 31 years old, Jon Jones should be in the prime of his fighting career.
Instead, he's attempting to climb back up the mountain after a two-year hiatus from the UFC.
If anything, this highlights the abnormality of Jones' career — a fighter who has reached the greatest heights and fallen to the lowest lows in a consistent up-and-down pattern.
Let's take a look at the long, turbulent road that the greatest light heavyweight champion has taken towards UFC 232.
Rivalry with Cormier
The last time Jon Jones was in The Octagon was on July 29, 2017 at UFC 214.
The event was highlighted by the rematch between Jones and longtime rival Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight championship. The rematch was originally scheduled for UFC 197, but Cormier was forced to pull out of the fight due to a foot injury. Then, the fight was pegged to headline UFC 200, but once again it was called off — this time due to Jones being flagged by USADA for a potential doping violation.
It was then announced later in the year that Jones was suspended for a year by both USADA and the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the violation.
So after two years of the Jones and Cormier trying to meet for the rematch, the dance finally took place in the summer of 2017.
In the bout, Jones caught Cormier with a high kick to the head and finished the reigning champion off with punches to the ground. Once again, Jones was on top of the world — or so he thought.
Less than one month after Jones' second victory over Cormier, it was announced that USADA tabbed Jones for another doping violation. This time it was from a test sample that was taken after the weigh-ins the day before the fight.
On August 22, 2017, it was confirmed by USADA that Jones tested positive for Turinabol in both his 'A' and 'B' samples that were provided. Jones' drug test failure was his second in as many years, and led him to face a potential four-year suspension from USADA.
Turinabol is an anabolic androgenic steroid that is taken orally. The steroid typically results in lean muscle grown while still keeping estrogen levels stable.
The revelation of the positive test came as a shock to the fighting world, especially after Jones' two previous suspensions. Due to the test results, Jones' second fight with Cormier was ruled a no contest, and Cormier was awarded back the belt.
Jones spent the next year of his life fighting the suspension, claiming that he didn't know the turinabol was in his system, and making arguments against getting the max four-year suspension.
On September 19, 2018, USADA reduced Jones' ban to 15 months, retroactive to July 2017, making him eligible to return to the UFC at the end of the year. USADA cited Jones' "delivery of substantial assistance" as the reason for the reduction.
Face Off with Gustafsson
With Jones finally eligible to return after a two-year layoff, there was talk of him slotting into the main event role in Madison Square Garden at UFC 230 back in October.
However, the talk turned out to be just rumors as Cormier was the given the spotlight at UFC 230 to defend his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis.
But instead of headlining the MSG card, Jones was awarded a fight just as appetizing. On October 10, it was reported that Jones return bout would be against Alexander Gustafsson — the man who gave Jones the toughest title defense of his entire career back in 2013.
At UFC 232 on December 29, Jones and Gustafsson will clash for the light heavyweight championship. While Cormier is still the light heavyweight champion, he will be stripped of the belt when Jones vs. Gustafsson officially starts.
As mentioned, the duo met at UFC 165 in one of the greatest title fights in the history of the light heavyweight division. The lanky Swede took Jones to his limit in a five-round war, but didn't do enough to finish the best champion in the division's history.
At the end of 25 minutes, Jones was named the winner by unanimous decision, but the fight was much closer than it looked on paper.
Five years later, the desire to see the rematch is still as high as ever, and the two titans will meet once again on December 29.
See Jon Jones' Return at UFC 232
The greatest light heavyweight champion in UFC history is back and you can be there for his return with an Official Ticket Package from the UFC VIP Experience. As a VIP, you get access to the weigh-ins, fighter meet & greets, our hospitality area and much more!