Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC) was forced out of his first title defense against Stipe Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC) at UFC 295 after sustaining a torn pectoral tendon that requires surgery.
In the meantime, the UFC opted to book an interim title fight between Sergei Pavlovich (17-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Tom Aspinall (13-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC), which co-headlines the Nov. 11 card at Madison Square Garden in New York. White said Jones needs about eight months to heal, but Sonnen thinks that as long as he’s in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug testing pool, which remains the UFC’s partner until the end of the year, that timeframe is unlikely.
“Jon Jones, don’t forget they took all his needles, all the good stuff, so that’s going to be a very hard recovery at this age,” Sonnen told The MacLife. “This is a guy that’s already sat for three years. This is a guy that hasn’t taken good care of himself. I wish Jon the best. I don’t want to kick him while he’s down. I’m trying to be very realistic about this scenario, and I think Jon can handle the business from me.
“Jon Jones is going to be out eight months in the best-case scenario. That’s going to put him at 37 years old to preserve a fight with what will then be a 42-and-a-half-year-old.”
Sonnen sees Pavlovich vs. Aspinall as the real title fight. With both Jones and Miocic’s recent inactivity, Sonnen says no one will be clamoring to see their fight once it’s rebooked.
“If we get down the road, eight months, which is the best-case scenario – I mean, don’t forget this is a bad shoulder injury,” Sonnen said. “Jon Jones is 36 years old. He’s going to be 37. They took his growth hormone and his testosterone away. This isn’t like the olden days where he can heal himself in record time. If he stays within the USADA pool, if it’s eight months, it’s going to be the full eight months.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.