Jones is widely considered as arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. He has been out of action since taking on Dominick Reyes in Feb. 2020 at UFC 247. Reyes put in a competitive effort but eventually got edged out by Jones on the judges’ scorecards by a razor-thin decision that many felt could have gone either way.
Following the bout, Jones relinquished the 205-pound title and declared his intentions to move up to the heavyweight division in hopes of a super fight with reigning heavyweight king Francis Ngannou.
Nearly three years on from the announcement, ‘Bones’ is yet to step foot inside the octagon again. Contractual disputes combined with difficulties in negotiation saw the matchup fall apart.
Ngannou completed the final bout on his contract when he defended his title successfully against former interim champion Ciryl Gane in Jan. 2022 at UFC 270. He was involved in a lengthy public feud with the promotion and company president Dana White. Although the organization would like to have Ngannou under an exclusive deal, his boxing ambitions saw him reject multiple offers in the hopes of securing a better agreement.
Jones Rumored To Fight Gane in March
On Jan. 14, French media outlet La Sueur took to Twitter to share an alleged poster of a fight between Jones and Gane for UFC 285 on Mar. 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
More surprisingly, the match is reportedly for the world heavyweight championship, casting doubt on Ngannou’s future in the UFC.
La Sueur added that the photo was sent to them by Gane’s brother David.
‘Bon Gamin’ had issued a call out of Jones on Jan. 12, inviting him for a competition inside the cage at the reported event.
“Where you at @JonnyBones? I’m free this March, Vegas,” tweeted Gane.
Gane is coming off an impressive performance against fan favorite Tai Tuivasa in the headlining bout of UFC Paris in September, the promotion’s grand debut in France. Tuivasa put up a tough challenge and became the first fighter to score a knockdown over Gane but eventually succumbed to some vicious body kicks and punches by the latter.
Ngannou’s Coach Is Confident About the Jones Fight
Ngannou’s head coach Eric Nicksick of Xtreme Couture MMA gym gave his take on the chances of a fight between his pupil and Jones. While he was not too sure of the time, he was confident the showdown would happen.
“I think it’s 50-50, to be honest with you, when you’re talking business and timeline,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “I’m confident from what I saw from Francis a couple of weeks ago that if we had to be ready for March, I think we can get him ready, but I think it is cutting it a little bit short because he had to go back home and renew his visa.
“And then obviously they still haven’t announced anything yet with his contract and where they’re at, so 50-50 for me. I’m hoping for this thing, fingers crossed that we can get this deal done. If it’s not March, maybe it’s April or May, or something like that. I do know that they’re shooting for March and that Jon Jones is the opponent.
“Everything else is out of my hands, but if they tell me, ‘Hey, we’re fighting March 4,’ we’ll have our guy ready, that’s for sure.”