UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones probably will not return to the cage until March or April 2014.
That's according to a report Tuesday evening on the UFC Tonight program (h/t MMAFighting.com) from broadcaster and reporter Ariel Helwani.
The 26-year-old Jones (19-1) is coming off of arguably the closest and most punishing fight of his professional career, a five-round unanimous-decision win over Alexander Gustafsson.
Though Gustafsson asked for an immediate rematch, Jones preferred a different route. The UFC went on to match Jones up with Glover Teixeira, with an apparent agreement that Jones-Gustafsson II would occur some time after Jones-Teixeira.
Two months later, Jones pulled out of the match with Teixeira—scheduled for UFC 170 on Feb. 22. UFC president Dana White initially said the withdrawal did not happen because of injury, but news later emerged that Jones' injured foot apparently was the culprit.
In the wake of UFC 165, Jones was medically suspended for a minimum of 60 days pending, according to the report, "a CT scan or MRI, and an X-ray prior to his return."
Apparently, based on this new time frame for the champion's return, the injury is more serious than initially suspected. The UFC Tonight report provided no additional information on the nature or severity of Jones' injury.
The news throws the UFC light heavyweight division into an even more pronounced state of disarray. While the UFC booked Jones-Teixeira, they paired Gustafsson with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The injury-prone Lil Nog once again lived up to the reputation he has earned in recent years by puling out of the arrangement because of an injury.
Fresh off of his win over Chael Sonnen at UFC 167, Rashad Evans said at the event's post-fight press conference that he'd like to face Gustafsson. No word yet on whether the UFC will make that fight. But with its champ on the sidelines, it seems likely the entire division will exist in some state of suspended animation for the foreseeable future.
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