UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been medically cleared to resume fighting and is tentatively scheduled to face former titleholder Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 135 on Sept. 24 at Pepsi Center in Denver.
"We're very excited that Jon got cleared," Jones' manager, Malki Kawa, told ESPN.com. "It's an exciting matchup, so Jon decided to fight Rampage.
"He considers Rampage a legend in the sport."
Jones defeated Mauricio Rua in March to claim the title, but suffered torn ligaments in his right hand during the bout. Jones has stated that he's suffered right-hand injuries since his days as a collegiate wrestler, but they always healed quickly.
The most recent injury, however, did not heal as fast, forcing Jones to indefinitely postpone his first title defense against former training partner Rashad Evans.
With Jones' return date unknown, Evans opted to face contender Phil Davis on Aug. 6 at UFC 133 in Philadelphia.
After seeing several physicians, Jones' injured hand started to show improvement and he began expressing a desire to defend his title in September or October.
Jackson became the most viable opponent for Jones after registering a unanimous-decision win May 28 over Matt Hamill. After the bout, Jackson claimed to have injured his right hand. But he, too, has been medically cleared to fight in September.
The victory over Hamill was the second in a row for Jackson, who defeated fellow former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida by split decision in November 2010.
Jones will enter the cage in September with a 13-1-0 professional record. His only setback came via disqualification in December 2009 against Hamill. Jones was dominating Hamill until the fight was halted due to illegal elbows.
Jackson has a pro mark of 32-8-0. His most recent loss came against Evans by unanimous decision at UFC 114 on May 29, 2010.
Jones and Jackson have not yet signed contracts to fight each other, but have issued oral agreements.
Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.