weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier set to return in separate bouts

Updated October 15, 2018 - 5:45 pm

Archrivals Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will both return to the cage before the end of the year.

It just won’t be against each other.

Jones is set to return from the second performance-enhancing drug suspension of his career for a UFC 232 headlining bout against Alexander Gustafsson on Dec. 29 at T-Mobile Arena.

It’s the first time Jones has competed since returning from suspension to knock out Cormier to reclaim the light heavyweight belt in July 2017. The UFC decided to strip Jones of the belt and return it to Cormier after Jones tested positive.

Now it will be stripped from Cormier and be awarded to the winner of the bout between Jones and Gustafsson.

Cormier has another belt to defend.

He currently holds the heavyweight and light heavyweight belt and will put the heavyweight belt on the line Nov. 3 at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden in New York, less than two months before the other one is slated to be taken away.

Cormier will face Derrick Lewis, who is coming off a spectacular comeback win over Alexander Volkov at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 6 that was followed by an even more memorable postfight interview in his boxers.

It’s a risky fight for Cormier, who could have opted to hold out for massive paydays against either Jones or wrestling star Brock Lesnar.

Cormier, however, believes he will get through Lewis and still have one or both of those options available in the future.

“I didn’t think I was going to fight on this card, but the deal I got was so good. There was no way I could say no, honestly,” Cormier told ESPN. “I would not have accepted a rematch against (former champ) Stipe Miocic on short notice, he’s too good under these circumstances I’m not saying Derrick isn’t good, but Stipe is capable of beating me in different ways. He does different things well. I think in this fight, Derrick has to knock me out to win. Usually, if a guy only has one path to victory, I do pretty well. Yes, I will admit the opponent factored into this.”

Cormier still insists he will retire by the time he turns 40 in March.

“The one opponent that would matter to me most is Jones, because he’s beaten me twice,” Cormier said. “The one that would mean more financially would be Lesnar. I think I would always pick the one that means more, but my wife might have something to say about that.”

Jones is a minus-280 favorite over Gustafsson at the Westgate sports book. Cormier is an even more prohibitive favorite over Lewis at minus-600.

Tukhugov out of UFC Fight Night 138

Zubaira Tukhugov has officially been removed from his UFC Fight Night 138 bout against Artem Lobov and replaced by featherweight contender Michael Johnson.

Tukhugov’s removal is believed to be a result of his involvement in the postfight brawl between his friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.

Nurmagomedov has threatened to quit the organization if Tukhugov is released from his contract.

Lobov is a friend and training partner of McGregor. An interview he did on Russian television critical of Nurmagomedov was a major catalyst for the tension between the fighters and their camps. He was also part of McGregor’s entourage during the infamous bus attack.

UFC 138 takes place in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, on Oct. 27.

Lee set to headline UFC on Fox 31

Las Vegan Kevin Lee will return to action on Dec. 15 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The lightweight contender will headline UFC on Fox 31 against Al Iaquinta in a rematch of a bout Lee lost by unanimous decision back in 2014.

It was Lee’s first career loss and came in his UFC debut when he was just 21 years old.

Both fighters have come up short in title opportunities since their first meeting.

Bellator final set

Heavyweight star Fedor Emelianenko will fight for the Bellator tournament championship against Ryan Bader on Jan. 26 in Los Angeles after both fighters scored semifinal wins over the weekend.

Emelianenko dropped Chael Sonnen with a right hand early in their bout and eventually finished the fight with a series of punches on the ground late in the first round.

The 42-year-old Russian had last won a fight in the United States in 2009 before beating Frank Mir in the first round back in April.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
Greg Hardy, former NFL star, on MMA knockout
The former NFL star needed just 17 seconds to score a knockout on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series (Adam Hill/Review-Journal)
Marlon Moraes says Henry Cejudo will regret stepping up to bantamweight - VIDEO
UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo is coming up to the bantamweight division to battle Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt on June 8 at UFC 238. Moraes said Cejudo will regret going after a second title in a new division and added that he thinks his path will cross with former champion TJ Dillashaw in the future.
Paige VanZant details her arm injury, when she can return - VIDEO
UFC strawweight Paige VanZant was briefly linked to fight at UFC 236, but had to withdraw from the bout due to a broken arm. As a guest on the RJ Ringside Podcast, she detailed the injury and also spoke about joining the M-1 Global booth as a color commentator.
UFC 236 Press Conference Highlights
UFC 236 will feature a pair of interim title fights. In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will face lightweight contender Dustin Poirier and middleweights Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will collide in the co-main event. UFC 236 will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on Apr. 13.
Jon Jones retains light heavyweight belt at UFC 235 - VIDEO
Jon Jones retained the UFC light heavyweight belt when he earned a decision over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235.
Kamaru Usman crowned new champ at UFC 235 — VIDEO
Kamaru Usman became the first African-born fighter to claim a UFC belt when he defeated Tyron Woodley to become the promotion's new welterweight champion.
UFC 235 Official Weigh-in Results - VIDEO
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2 stepped on the scale prior for the official fight card weigh-ins. All four fighters competing in the title bouts slated for the event made weight.
UFC's Jones says he has no shame after recent drug test results are released - VIDEO
Though recent drug test results still show trace amounts of Turinabol in his system, UFC light heayvweight champion Jon Jones says he has no shame and is hiding nothing as he prepares for his UFC 235 title bout against Anthony Smith.
Anthony Smith stays level-headed prior to UFC 235 title fight - VIDEO
Despite UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones being in the spotlight for drug test discrepancies and other outside the cage struggles, Anthony Smith says he is tuning out the noise and remaining focused on the challenge of beating the reigning champion in the cage.
UFC 235 Media Day Highlights
Highlights and staredowns from the top three fights on the UFC 235 fight card taking place at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2.
Dustin Poirier beats up Max Holloway at UFC 236

Dustin Poirier bloodied Max Holloway and won a unanimous decision for the UFC interim lightweight title on Saturday night, denying Holloway his chance to become only the fourth fighter to hold two belts at the same time.

Poirier bloodies Holloway, wins UFC interim lightweight belt

Dustin Poirier bloodied Max Holloway and won a unanimous decision for the UFC interim lightweight title on Saturday night, denying Holloway his chance to become only the fourth fighter to hold two belts at the same time.