Jon Jones to defend his title at UFC 295
If all goes to plan, Jones will be making his first defence of the UFC heavyweight title. He won that belt in March with a first round submission win over Ciryl Gane. That was Jones’ heavyweight debut.
Jones has eleven successful title defences from his time as UFC light heavyweight champion.
Miocic has not appeared in a UFC Octagon since March 27, 2021. At that appearance, at UFC 260, he lost the UFC heavyweight title to Francis Ngannou (via second round KO).
Miocic has four successful UFC heavyweight title defences under his belt (the most in UFC history).
Should either Jones or Miocic fail to make it to the cage on November 11, the UFC has a back-up plan. Sergei Pavlovich.
Sergei Pavlovich to play back-up at UFC 285
Top ranked Russian heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich is expected to serve as the back-up fighter for the main event at UFC 285 (per Igor Lazorin on Instagram).
Should Jon Jones or Stipe Miocic not be able to compete, the UFC hopes Pavlovich will be on weight and ready to step in for either man.
Pavlovich is 18-1 in his career and has been plying his trade in the UFC since 2018. Prior to that he fought exclusively in the Fight Nights Global organization, winning a heavyweight grand prix in that promotion and their inaugural heavyweight title.
In his UFC debut he lost, via TKO, to Alistair Overeem. He hasn’t lost since then.
After beating Blaydes in April, Pavlovich announced he wanted to sit out and wait for a chance to fight Jones. And it seems that gambit may have paid off.
UFC 295 fight card
In addition to Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic, UFC 295 has three other fights currently booked.
Opinion: Jon Jones would rather sink the card than fight Pavlovich
It’s nice that Sergei Pavlovich will get to weigh-in for UFC 295 and show himself off as next man up in the heavyweight title race. But there is no way he’s fighting Jon Jones if something happens to Stipe Miocic.
Jones showed us what happens when you try and give him a late replacement back in 2012. Then the UFC light heavyweight champion was gearing up to defend his belt against Dan Henderson at UFC 151. However, Henderson tore his MCL a week before the fight. The UFC wanted to send in Chael Sonnen but Jones, and his head coach at the time Greg Jackson, said no thank you.
This lead to a UFC event being cancelled for the first time ever. Dana White would then called Jackson a ‘sport killer’ for him advising Jones not to take the fight.
Jon Jones was absolutely correct to reject the fight. He trained for Henderson, not Sonnen. He had a title belt, pay-per-view points and an undefeated-ish legacy to protect. It simply was not worth risking all that just to play ball with the UFC.
Doing the UFC a favour does not come back around. The promotion will cut you and shame you to save a dollar. Prelim fighters have no choice to accept a nightmarish deal or last minute change from the UFC. Saying no could mean a career in the MMA wilderness. But for a champ, or anyone with some name recognition, the decision should always be “what’s best for me” and not “what’s best for the UFC”.
So if Miocic pulls out anytime between now and fight night, you can expect Jones to do exactly what he did 12 years ago. And he would be absolutely correct to do so.
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