Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has competed just once since January 2015 and hasn’t held the title since April of that year.
Yet there remains little doubt he is the best 205-pound fighter in the world in the opinion of Las Vegas bookmakers.
The Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas opened Jones as a minus-250 favorite on Tuesday morning for his title bout against rival Daniel Cormier, which is scheduled as the main event of UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim.
Cormier bettors can get the champion at plus-210.
Sources close to the sports book indicate action has been slow during the first few hours the fight has been on the board. One possible reason is a skepticism the bout will take place on that date.
Jones and Cormier have been booked to fight several times, but have only stepped in the cage against each other once. Jones earned a unanimous-decision victory over Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015 as a minus-240 favorite.
Cormier had to pull out of the rematch in April 2016 with an injury and Jones was yanked from the main event of UFC 200 in July 2016 just days before the event when an out-of-competition drug test was flagged by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
His suspension will end in July, three weeks before the scheduled fight with Cormier.
Jones has won 13 straight fights since suffering the only loss of his career when he was disqualified for an illegal elbow. Cormier’s only career loss was to Jones.
UFC president Dana White has said contender Jimi Manuwa will be booked as an emergency replacement for UFC 214 should either Jones or Cormier not be able to compete.
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.