Now that he's cleared to return from a UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, Jon Jones is starting to eye possible opponents for his comeback bout.
One fight that excites him is a potential rematch with Alexander Gustafsson.
“I’ve been hearing about the possibility that Alexander Gustafsson will be the first person I fight when I come back, which I’m excited about,” Jones told RT Sport.
“A lot of people feel like he beat me the first time we fought, which didn’t happen, it was close, but he didn’t beat me."
Jones and Gustafsson went the full five rounds in their UFC 165 headlining bout with joins getting a unanimous nod from the judges. That was on Sept. 21, 2013. Jones has fought just four times since.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion's exploits outside of the Octagon, including a felony hit-and-run incident, two anti-doping violations, and other missteps have kept him from being as active as he could have been.
Meanwhile, Gustafsson has fought just five times during that span, largely hampered by injuries.
Should they meet again, Jones believes it would be an entirely different fight.
“So Alexander Gustafsson is a possible first fight back, I’d love to fight him again and take him seriously this time. The first time I fought him, I wasn’t living life the way a champion should be living life," he admitted.
“I didn’t train very hard for that fight, I’m not making excuses, but this is just the truth. I could have given it a lot more effort. I got fatigued after the first two rounds, which is something that never normally happens in my fights, so I feel like the next time I fight him, I will finish him.”
UFC president Dana White has said that he doesn't see any way that Jones returns in time to give UFC 230 on Nov. 3 in New York the headliner that it has been missing, but instead sees him likely fighting sometime in early 2019.
Gustafsson hasn't yet been determined as Jones' first fight in nearly a year and a half, but it is certainly an entertaining possibility.