Jones has been on the sidelines since his last outing against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in Feb. 2020. The former light heavyweight king had a dominant run at the top, gaining a record 15 title bouts. Before Reyes, Jones had faced Thiago Santos at UFC 239 in Jul. 2019 in a close-fought battle that saw him come out on top by a split decision.
Following the two razor-thin victories that some argue could have gone otherwise, Jones announced his decision to leave the 205 lb division and move up a weight class to heavyweight.
Jones teased the date for his return to be in December, tweeting: “UFC 282.”
He followed up with another tweet declaring his plans: “My goal, my dream is to have my first heavyweight title fight look like my first light heavyweight title fight. Pure domination.”
Jones’ first title fight came against former light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 in Mar. 2011. On that night, the 35-year-old Albuquerque native became the youngest ever UFC champion, a record he still holds to this day after more than a decade.
UFC Tried To Make Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou
Jones initially got linked to a potential outing with the reigning heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. However, all talks fizzled out after company president Dana White claimed that “Bones” was demanding “Deontay Wilder money,” which would be far more than any fighter has earned for a single night’s work.
Meanwhile, Ngannou got involved in a public feud with the promotion over contract disputes and pay issues as well. He recently revealed that he lost out on over a million dollars from an interested crypto sponsor because of the UFC’s restrictions on fighter sponsorships inside the octagon along with their own partnership with a competing brand, Crypto.com.
Ngannou chose not to re-sign and completed the last fight on his contract. Having defended his belt against Ciryl Gane in Jan. at UFC 270, the champion would see his deal get an automatic extension of a year after which he may choose to leave the UFC.
A knee injury ruled Ngannou out of competition as he underwent surgery and was expected to sit out the rest of the year. He had been promoting a crossover bout with former boxing world champion Tyson Fury, but no concrete developments have come yet.
Jones Is Expected To Fight Stipe Miocic
Former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic was tapped to welcome Jones to the weight class. White stated that it would make sense to have Jones compete for the interim heavyweight title in his debut against Miocic, who holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the division’s history.
Considering how big of a threat Ngannou’s power would have been, the relatively undersized Miocic would come as a relief for Jones. While Jones was working on packing on the pounds, Miocic reportedly underwent a transformation of his own.
Chris Weidman had claimed that Miocic bulked up to a solid 250 lbs and looked more dangerous than ever, whereas Yorgan DeCastro shared that Jones was tipping the scales near the heavyweight limit at 255 lbs.