No way Jon Jones takes this replacement fight at UFC 295

Jon Jones will not consider a back-up fighter at UFC 295 if Stipe Miocic can't make it.

By: Tim Bissell | 3 weeks ago

Jon Jones to defend his title at UFC 295

UFC 295 is booked for Madison Square Garden on November 11. The headline bout is expected to be Jon Jones defending his UFC heavyweight title against former champ Stipe Miocic.

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).

August 17, 2019, Anaheim, California, USA: STIPE MIOCIC DEF DANIEL CORMIER BY TKO, ROUND 4, 4:09 AT UFC 241 on August 17, 2019. UFC 241 - ZUMAh148 20190817_zap_h148_074 Copyright: xDaltonxHammx
Stipe Miocic when he fought Daniel Cormier in 2019. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire/Dalton Hamm

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.

Potential Jon Jones’ opponent Sergei Pavlovich.

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.

Since being humbled by ‘The Reem’, Pavlovich has reeled off six straight wins by either TKO or KO. His recent victories have come over Curtis Blaydes, Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis.

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.

Derek Brunson is expected to fight Roman Dolidze in the middleweight division and Jessica Andrade is scheduled to fight Mackenzie Dern. Joshua Van vs. Kevin Borjas has also been booked for the event.

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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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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