It’s starting to sound like at least one part of the UFC’s heavyweight contender picture has been settled. Between former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, and current heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, the world’s largest MMA promotion has three star talents that have been happy to sit and wait for the right deal to step back into the Octagon.
With rumors already starting to swirl that something big was brewing for UFC 282, outside of the already planned Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira 2 title fight, Ariel Helwani reports that the Endeavor owned promotion is apparently in the early stages of negotiating a heavyweight headlining bout between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic.
If they can get Jones x Miocic done, that’ll be the UFC 282 main. If not, the main will be Prochazka x Teixeira 2.
And if they can’t get Jones x Miocic done for 12/10, they’ll set their sights on doing Ngannou x Jones in March, if Ngannou re-signs. Developing.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 14, 2022
As noted, with two potential bouts the UFC is looking to book, Jon Jones is the common thread between them. That would seem to suggest that, after more than two-and-a-half years of sitting on the sidelines, ‘Bones’ has finally come to a new contract agreement with the promotion. Jones abandoned his claim to the light heavyweight title in 2020, after successfully defending it against Dominick Reyes—claiming that his only challenges remained up in a new division. But in order to actually make the move, the UFC would have to open up their pocketbook.
“I had a brief phone meeting with UFC‘s lawyer Hunter a few days ago,” Jones said in a statement his social media, speaking of a potential fight against Francis Ngannou in 2021. “As of right now I expressed to him that anywhere around eight to $10 million would be way too low for a fight of this magnitude. That’s all that has been discussed so far.”
Back in August, however, Jones teased that he was ready to make his UFC return, even targeting the December 10th PPV card as the potential event. With that part of the equation seemingly in place, it just remains for the UFC to set the other pieces.
While Miocic—who hasn’t competed since losing his belt to Ngannou back in March of 2021—has been campaigning for a 3rd shot at the ‘Predator’ and a chance to regain his title, in November of last year he sounded very open to the idea of a fight with Jones.
“I’m down,” Miocic said of a Jones fight in an interview on the MMA Hour last fall. “I don’t think he wanted it. I don’t know the whole story but I’m down. Then he wants a title shot. I know he’s done well, he’s probably one of the greatest of all time but you’ve still got to wait your order. That’s like me going to light heavyweight and being like I want a shot.”
As for Ngannou, the 36-year-old champion has been sidelined due to injury since unifying the heavyweight title back in January against Ciryl Gane. That bout marked the last of Ngannou’s contract with the UFC, with the stipulation that he wouldn’t actually be able to test free agency until early 2023—12-months later. Both Ngannou and Dana White have sounded willing to work on a new deal, but at least as of late September it doesn’t sound like either side has been pressing to get one done.
“I think we are not in a rush,” Ngannou said of his contract negotiations. “I’m not in a rush either. I’m not going anywhere, so I’m not rushing. At the end of the day, we have the whole time.”
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