UFC president Dana White has confirmed Jon Jones will NOT return to the octagon this year.
The former long-reigning light-heavyweight champion hasn't set foot inside the cage since his controversial UFC 247 victory over Dominick Reyes last February.
Jones' absence has from the cage has been down to an ongoing pay row with the promotion, who aren't willing to meet his demands for his long-awaited heavyweight debut.
MMA fans were hoping to see the pound-for-pound king compete this year, but White said: “He’s not fighting till next year.
“It’s 2021. He’s not fighting until . I’m not even thinking about him until ’22.”
White recently revealed former heavyweight king Stipe Miocic had been offered and accepted a showdown with the future hall-of-famer.
But with Jones on the sidelines until next year, the future is now unclear for Miocic.
When asked what's next for the former champion, White admitted: “I don’t know.
“The beautiful thing about this division right now is we had this fight tonight.
"Now Francis [Ngannou] versus Ciry [Gane], you’ve got Jon Jones out there in 2022 and you got Stipe out there still, too.
He’s not fighting till next year
"That means there’s a lot of fun coming up over the next year, year and a half.”
A super-fight between Jones and Ngannou was high on fight fans' wishlists after the latter knocked out Miocic in March to become the UFC's first African-born heavyweight champion.
Ngannou was eager to welcome Jones to heavyweight but is no longer holding out for Bones.
He told Sirius XM Radio: “If you ask me who I would like to fight, I would say Jon Jones.
"But we all know Jon Jones is not going to fight any time soon, and I don’t want to sit there waiting for him.
"That’s not what should define my schedule. I want to fight, and as a champion, I want to defend my title.
"But I just want to make it right for me. That’s all. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who it is.
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"When you’re champion, you kind of just assume that you can fight all the contenders.
"It doesn’t matter the order of them. You’re going to fight them.
"If they’re a legit contender, you have to fight them. It’s not your choice.”
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