If Francis Ngannou withdraws, the UFC is considering a fight between Jon Jones and Curtis Blaydes.
Jon Jones’ return to the sport at Heavyweight is still on hold, but it appears that the UFC has set a date for the former 205-pound champion to compete. It also has an adversary… and a backup.
Jones is scheduled to fight at UFC 285 on March 5, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to Nolan King. The heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, and Jones are expected to fight. However, with Ngannou sounding ready to leave the promotion when his UFC contract expires in early 2023, that appears unlikely. Curtis Blaydes is the name given to the promotion as a “prospective safety net.”
Blaydes is 17-3 (12-3-1 UFC) and 5-1 in his last five fights.
Blaydes is 17-3 (12-3-1 UFC), on a three-fight winning streak, and 5-1 since the start of 2020. He is ranked third in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. As a result, he has the credentials to be a good first-round opponent for Jones in his new weight class. However, the fight loses some of its oomph because “Razor” has a (perhaps unfair) reputation as a conservative and boring fighter.
What happened to the Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic fight? Jones has repeatedly called for a fight with Miocic, who is statistically the greatest UFC Heavyweight of all time. Unfortunately, it appears that negotiations between UFC executives and Miocic have come to a halt.
“I think once they didn’t really come correct with an offer – and that’s really what happened here,” Ariel Helwani, host of The MMA Hour, revealed at the beginning of November. “It was like, ‘Hey, you want to fight him, here’s the money, take it or leave it,'” she says. And [Stipe Miocic] was like, ‘Uhhh,’ and they just kept going.”
One month later, King reports that nothing significant has changed and that the match has “fallen by the wayside.”
If relations between Miocic and the UFC do not improve, Miocic’s career may come to an end.
“I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this is Stipe’s final performance,” Helwani added. “Stipe is going to disappear into the night quietly.” Stipe was never going to cause a fuss. Perhaps it’s a [social media] post or something similar. He’s a pretty quiet, private guy who enjoys his job as a firefighter. He wasn’t going to make a big deal out of his fighting career’s end.”
Jones is now in a position similar to where he was at 205 pounds, fighting tough guys with little mainstream name recognition rather than the big money “super” fights.
Jones is now in a position similar to where he was at 205 pounds, fighting tough guys with little mainstream name recognition rather than the big money “super” fights he clearly craves. But it’s been more than two years since he gave up the Light Heavyweight title to move up to Heavyweight.
In other words, he must act quickly if he is to make a move, regardless of who his opponent is.