Jon Jones’ first UFC heavyweight title defense is official

The UFC is headed to Madison Square Garden this November for the first defense of Jon Jones' heavyweight title.

By: Zane Simon | 3 months ago

UFC champion Jon Jones is set to defend his heavyweight title belt for the first time. Jones won gold in his first fight in his new weight class back in March, when he defeated Ciryl Gane via first round submission. That victory marked the only trip to the Octagon for Jones since dropping his light heavyweight title back in 2020.

In the months since that victory, the big question was: Who would Jon Jones face next? Francis Ngannou’s negotiations with the UFC had fully fallen apart (finally resulting in Ngannou’s signing with the PFL in May). Curtis Blaydes got blown out of the water by Sergei Pavlovich back in April, potentially making the Russian phenom the number one contender in the process. But there was always an obvious answer, provided the UFC could get the deal made.

Dana White announces Stipe Miocic vs. Jon Jones

Much like Jones himself, former multiple-time heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has been fairly inactive of late. The Ohio native has had his own, less public squabbles with the UFC over money, and made it clear after losing the belt to Ngannou back in 2021 that he was only really interested in setting foot inside a cage again if he was going to be fighting for gold.

Unfortunately for fans, that’s meant the 40-year-old professional fire fighter has spent the last two years riding the pine, waiting for just the right opportunity to present itself. With Jones now champion and Ngannou out of the picture, it seems that opportunity has finally come.

“For the heavyweight championship of the world, Jon Jones—the greatest mixed martial artist of all time—will defend his title against the greatest heavyweight of all time, former champ Stipe Miocic,” Dana White announced in a video press release. “They headline UFC 295, on Saturday, November 11th, at ‘The Mecca’ Madison Square Garden, in New York City.

“This is the fight that Jon Jones wanted, it’s the fight that Stipe wanted. It’s a legacy fight for both of these guys. It’s official, it’s done. Make your plans now, and I will see you at the fights.”

There were doubts

Despite the obviousness of the booking and the fact that both men seemed interested in the fight, there were still a lot of questions as to whether the bout would actually come together. Back in May, former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier let slip that he was hearing that Stipe vs. Jones had fallen apart.

“It’s exactly what happened whenever Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones was the talk of the town and all of a sudden it started to shift,” Cormier explained, as the reason he was doubting the fight’s future. “Because we as humans have short attention spans. There’s something that way, I look and I’m gone. We have got to, guys, Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones, we got to make this happen. Otherwise, we’re going to miss out on another one. This is too big of a fight to let it fall by the wayside. 

“I don’t know what’s happening right now on the backend that’s not allowing for this to come together, but it needs to come together for the sake of the heavyweight division. Because right now, we can’t afford to have Jones missing for as long as he was last time or even a fraction of that.”

Chael Sonnen only added fuel to that fire, suggesting that he had heared rumors that the UFC was pursuing a fight between Jon Jones and Sergei Pavlovich for August, instead of the expected November booking for Jones/Miocic. Fortunately for all of us, it looks like the clash longtime stars has come together as planned.

UFC 295 finally set

Along with the news of a new heavyweight title fight, White’s announcement also serves as the long expected confirmation of a 14th UFC PPV event this year. As has been the case for the UFC going all the way back to 2016 (with the exception of 2020’s abridged COVID schedule) the promotion has held a PPV at the Madison Square Garden in early November each and every year.

Given Jones’ ties to the area, as well, it only made sense that the UFC would be looking to him to headline their November PPV card in New York. As of yet, no other bouts have been announced for the event.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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