Former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has a "95 percent" chance of returning to the UFC according to his manager Malki Kawa.
Jones returned to action in July from a one-year suspension for a failed drug test from 2016 as he knocked out Daniel Cormier in the third round of their highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 214 to regain the title he never lost.
However, the Endicott native's glory was short-lived as it emerged after the event that he failed yet another United States Doping Agency (USADA) drug test, testing positive for the banned substance Turinabol.
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) proceeded to overturn his win and give the title back to Cormier. Jones faces a possible four-year suspension for being a repeat offender. However, his camp is certain that he never knowingly took any performance-enhancing drugs.
In the most recent development though, Kawa claims there will be more clarity on the situation by the end of the month with Jones expected to have his hearing with the CSAC later this month. The manager adds that if things work out, there is a great likelihood of "Bones" returning to compete this year.
"By the end of this month I think we get some clarity on the issues," Kawa said on the Luke Thomas Show via MMAMania. "We have a hearing with the California State Athletic Commission and we're hoping to get the investigation with USADA wrapped up by then, as well.
"Hopefully it all works out that way. I got to assume that by the end of March, for a fact, we will get this resolved and get an idea of what it's looking like. I'd like to say about a 95 percent chance (he fights in 2018)."
Jones is doing everything to prove that he did not knowingly take any banned drugs, having reportedly passed a polygraph test conducted by the PGP Polygraph & Interviewing Service.
Kawa believes the passed polygraph test along with all the other factors that seem to indicate that Jones is innocent, such as his passed drug tests in the build-up to the event, will lead to USADA doing the right thing.
"If USADA is a respectable organization, which I think that they are, and they take all the information they compiled, all the interviews that they've done and all the things they've seen, they know for a fact that Jon Jones was not cheating and he was not intentionally taking any kind of substance," Kawa added.
"I think they know that and everybody can come to that conclusion based on the circumstances of his situation. That's the most I am going to say at this point because it is obviously ongoing."
Jones (22-1-1) is regarded by many as the greatest fighter of all time with his only loss coming in the form of a disqualification. However, his recent setbacks with performance-enhancing drugs have put him out of the GOAT debate for many in the combat world.