The long-awaited heavyweight debut of UFC star Jon Jones is on the horizon, and it will come in the form of a title fight against Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 on March 4.
It doesn't get bigger than this - UFC President <a href="https://twitter.com/danawhite?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DanaWhite</a> confirms that <a href="https://twitter.com/JonnyBones?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JonnyBones</a> will take on <a href="https://twitter.com/ciryl_gane?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ciryl_Gane</a> for the 𝐔𝐍𝐃𝐈𝐒𝐏𝐔𝐓𝐄𝐃 heavyweight championship at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC285?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC285</a> :trophy:<br><br>[ March 4 | <a href="https://twitter.com/TMobileArena?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TMobileArena</a> | Tix On Sale Jan 20 at <a href="https://t.co/LJfHcNZo6J">https://t.co/LJfHcNZo6J</a> ] <a href="https://t.co/oUpfPUMYXp">pic.twitter.com/oUpfPUMYXp</a>
Jones had previously confirmed the fight to MMA content creator Michael Wonsover on Saturday:
Michael Wonsover @The_MDubb
Just spoke with Jon Jones after a training session with <a href="https://twitter.com/HenryCejudo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HenryCejudo</a> in Phoenix. He confirms the upcoming heavyweight title fight with Cyril Gane, and also says he plans to have Cejudo in his corner if their schedules align. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC285?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC285</a> <a href="https://t.co/3ItpnKY4ni">pic.twitter.com/3ItpnKY4ni</a>
Rumors of a title fight between Jones and Gane began to swirl when a photo of the matchup was advertised on T-Mobile Arena. The graphic was later taken down, and MMA Fighting's Steven Marrocco reported that it was a "behind-the-scenes mistake."
MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported that now-former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was likely to be stripped of his title. The 36-year-old last fought in January 2022, defeating Gane by unanimous decision. Ngannou entered the fight with damage to his knee that later required surgery.
Helwani noted that the UFC initially was hoping to put together a fight between Jones and Ngannou, but the Cameroonian had contract issues that needed to be sorted out before he returned to the Octagon. It turns out that he won't for the foreseeable future, as UFC President Dana White later confirmed Ngannou's free agency and vacated title after the two sides could not agree to a new deal.
Jones hasn't fought since defending the light heavyweight championship against Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision in Feb. 2020. He vacated the title a few months later before announcing his intentions to move up to heavyweight, taking some time to prepare his body to fight in a new division.
However, White said Jones' desire to earn "Deontay Wilder money" for a fight against Ngannou had hindered negotiations.
On Sept. 24, 2021, Jones was arrested and charged with battery domestic violence one day after his fight against Alexander Gustafsson was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. The charge was eventually dropped. The 35-year-old had other run-ins with the law throughout his career, as he'd previously been arrested for a hit-and-run, driving under the influence, and negligent use of a firearm, among other charges.
Many consider Jones to be the most talented fighter the UFC has ever seen, so it will be interesting to see how he fares as a heavyweight.