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Dana White: Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader might not happen (updated)

UFC President Dana White on Oct. 15 indicated that an anticipated UFC 126 light heavyweight matchup between Jon Jones (11-1) and Ryan Bader (12-0) might not happen after all.

According to MMAWeekly.com, White said the following today during a fan Q&A in London for UFC 120:

“We tried to put that fight together, but Bader has some stuff going on. Jon Jones might be fighting somebody else, I don’t know how that’s going to go.”

White also said that Jones, while very talented, needs a couple of wins before earning himself a title shot, but acknowledged that it could happen next year if he continues on his current path.

Jones has put together a 5-1 record in the UFC and established himself as one of the sport’s top prospects despite a lack of experience. His only setback came by disqualification against Matt Hammill, a fight he was dominating but was penalized for throwing illegal elbows.

It looked like Bader would be Jones’s next test after he defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 119. Prior to the fight, Jones said he expected to face the winner of the Bader-Nogueira in his next fight.

If Bader is out, finding a suitable replacement won’t be easy. Jones has already defeated the likes of Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko, but Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin are already scheduled to face each other. And even if White and company decided Jones was ready for someone in the top four, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is set to face Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans — who trains with Jones — is waiting for his shot against champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Thiago Silva is 5-2 in the UFC, but he’s rumored to face Vera at UFC 125. Chuck Liddell, if he fights again, is riding too long of a losing streak for a fight with Jones to hold much interest. So who’s left? Unless the UFC shuffles the schedule around, former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture (19-10) could be an option. Although he’s near the end of his career, Couture is 2-0 at 205 since losing two fights and heavyweight and also picked up a high profile, freak show win over former boxing champion James Toney at UFC 118.

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UPDATE:

MMAFighting.com spoke with Jones’s agent, and at least at this point it appears the Jones — Bader bout is still a go for UFC 126.

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