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Jon Jones set for UFC return in February

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend the belt against undefeated contender Dominick Reyes on Feb. 8 in Houston, multiple sources confirmed to the Review-Journal on Friday.

The bout was first reported by ESPN.

Jones named Reyes as his next opponent several weeks ago and has been teasing a bout announcement was imminent on social media.

The UFC has not announced the headliner for the event, which is expected to be a pay-per-view. It’s unclear if it will be UFC 246 or UFC 247 because January’s event likely would be a pay-per-view card only if Conor McGregor is part of the main event.

Jones defended the belt twice in 2019, following a decision win over Anthony Smith in March with a very narrow split-decision victory over Thiago Santos in July.

Reyes, a 29-year-old from Victorville, California, is 12-0 and has won all six fights in the UFC. He is coming off a first-round knockout of former middleweight champ Chris Weidman in October. Jones opened as a minus-420 favorite at Westgate sports book Friday.

The Feb. 8 card is also expected to feature a women’s flyweight title bout between Katlyn Chookagian and champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Askren retires

Former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren has announced his retirement after going 1-2 in the UFC.

The 35-year-old Olympic wrestler was informed he will need hip replacement surgery after a lengthy athletic career.

“I’m retiring from the sport of mixed martial arts,” he told ESPN. “Frankly, I am retiring from everything.

“ I’ve been thinking about this for a week, kind of what I was going to say. I’m filled with gratitude for what a great career I have been able to have even though obviously in the end it did not turn out my way.”

Askren made his UFC debut in March after nearly a decade in the sport marked by a contentious relationship with UFC president Dana White that had the undefeated Askren long-thought to be the best fighter in the world not signed to the organization.

He debuted with a first-round submission win over former champ Robbie Lawler, then suffered his first career loss when he was knocked out by a flying knee from Jorge Masvidal in July in five seconds. Askren returned in October and was submitted by Demian Maia.

The former Missouri standout finishes his pro MMA career 19-2-1.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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