Jon Jones will make his UFC return in the heavyweight title bout against Ciryl Gane at the UFC 285 on March 4. In the meantime, the last heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, has been released from the organization. In short, this is the biggest news of the day, released during last night’s UFC Fight Night 217.
UFC couldn’t find a mutual language with Ngannou, who has been in some sort of a dispute with the organization in recent times. For a while, we’ve seen strains between him and Dana White, and Ngannou demanded better conditions for him in the future, which White refused to fulfill. Though we never actually heard from Ngannou what he wanted and whether his requests were realistic.
The UFC stated that their offer was the highest in history for one heavyweight fighter, yet the Predator decided to walk away.
Francis Ngannou is officially clear to sign a deal with someone else. White says they are going to wave any right to match and let him go elsewhere. He is no longer the UFC heavyweight champion. White says they offered him a deal that would have made him the highest paid HW ever.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 15, 2023
“I’ve told you guys this before — if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be,” White said. “I think Francis is in a place right now where he doesn’t want to take a lot of risk. He feels like he’s in a good position where he could fight lesser opponents and make more money.”
There are certain speculations that Ngannou might do some exhibition boxing matches or even become a professional. The media announced his clash with either Deonray Wilder or Tyson Fury, but nothing happened. Still, that doesn’t mean it won’t occur in the future, because of all the hype. Signing with PFL or Bellator wasn’t in speculation.
As for Jones and Gane, this is the bout that just a few expected to see. Bones was in the mix for plenty of fights, among others, against Ngannou and Miocic, as well as Israel Adesanya, but in the end, he received a chance to fight for the heavyweight belt against the former challenger and interim champion, Ciryl Gane. Gane lost to Nagnnou in the unification bout, via unanimous decision, with the Predator dominating his fellow Frenchman on the ground.
Meanwhile, Jones was in the octagon three years ago. His previous bout was against Dominick Reyes in February 2020, in a bout that saw him winning and defending the light heavyweight belt, though, following a tight and grindy battle.
Bones is considered to be one of the best fighters ever, despite all of his controversies. He was arrested several times on various charges, causing various incidents, but as long as we speak about his fighting skills, Jones is one of the best-ever MMA athletes.
Ciryl Gane will face Jon Jones for the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285 💪 pic.twitter.com/iWy2MKMUiM
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 15, 2023
As for Gane, he has 12 bouts with 11 wins and that single defeat to Ngnanou. He was the interim champion, earning that crown against Derrick Lewis, whom he knocked out. Apart from Lewis, Gane’s notable victims were Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Alexander Volkov and the most recent, Tai Tuivasa.
Looking at the odds, Jones is a slight favorite, sitting at -130, even though he opened at -200. Meanwhile, Gane is a +115 underdog, yet the trend is going in his favor.
The UFC 285 has just Jones vs. Gane officially confirmed. Apart from that there are certainly announced bouts, but none is confirmed. The most notable are the middleweight bout between Derek Brunson and Dricus du Plessis and the bantamweight fight between Cody Garbrandt and Julio Arce.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.