Former light heavyweight champion Jones has been out of action since facing Dominick Reyes in Feb. 2020 at UFC 247. Reyes put up a tough challenge but eventually got edged out by Jones on the judges’ scorecards by a split decision that many felt could have swung either way.
Jones relinquished the 205-pound title after the win and declared his plans to move up a division to compete at heavyweight. Initially, he got linked to a super fight with former UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou, who welcomed the idea on the right terms. Contractual disputes from both sides, combined with difficulties in negotiating a fair pay amount stalled the matchup for about three years.
During the post-fight press conference of UFC Fight Night 217 or UFC Vegas 67 this past Saturday, company president Dana White confirmed Jones would make his comeback against former interim titleholder Ciryl Gane in the headlining match of UFC 285 on Mar. 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
He further added that the promotion released Ngannou from the roster and would also be foregoing the three-month exclusive negotiation period to allow him to compete wherever he would like.
Winner of Jones v Gane Called Out by Stipe Miocic
Former UFC heavyweight king Stipe Miocic is widely regarded as the greatest victor in the division and has the highest number of title defenses in the history of the promotion. He
On Jan. 15, Miocic took to Twitter to issue a call out for the winner of Jones vs. Gane for a showdown in July.
“March 4th – I like it. I got winner in July,” said Miocic.
He has been on the sidelines since losing his title to Ngannou in a rematch in Mar. 2021 at UFC 260. Ngannou dispatched Miocic in the second round with a brutal knockout to win the gold and avenged his loss from Jan. 2018.
There was speculation Miocic might welcome Jones to the heavyweight division. However, no concrete developments happened, with rumors swirling around about Miocic’s potential retirement.
White shared an update about Miocic during the same presser.
“Stipe is still obviously very much in the mix,” White said (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “He’s going through some stuff right now that he’s dealing with. The timing just didn’t work for him.”
Ngannou’s Future Remains To Be Seen
‘The Predator’ made his last appearance under the banner against Gane in Jan. 2022 at UFC 270. He utilized a surprisingly grappling-heavy gameplay to defend the title and hand Gane the first loss of his professional career.
Following the win, Ngannou revealed he went into the outing with a knee injury, indicating he needed surgery and would likely stay on the sidelines for a while in recovery.
It was also the last fight on his deal with the UFC. He shared that he turned down multiple big money offers from the company as he took issue with signing a multi-fight contract without having the option to be able to compete elsewhere or in another sport like boxing. At the time of this writing, it remains to be seen where Ngannou’s future lies.