Date set for Jon Jones’ heavyweight debut, opponent unclear


Former gentle heavyweight UFC champion Jon Jones relinquished his title in Might 2020, asserting his need for the heavyweight scrap as a substitute. However we’re solely now inching nearer to lastly seeing him again within the Octagon. 

On Tuesday, MMA Junkie’s Nolan King reported that the UFC needs Jones’ heavyweight debut to be at UFC 285 in Las Vegas on March 5, 2023, and it had plans A, B and C to make sure the battle happens. 

However who’re these three fighters, and which one makes probably the most sense for Jones? 

Plan A: Stipe Miocic (ranked No. 2)

The UFC’s first plan was for Jones to face former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. The battle is sensible as a result of it isn’t simply handing Jones a title shot but in addition making certain that ought to he win, it means one thing to the division.

Stipe is taken into account one of many extra harmful and revered heavyweights. The issue is that Stipe is aware of his value and is not settling for a standard payday. 

“[T]hey didn’t actually come right with a proposal — and that’s actually what occurred right here,” MMA Combating’s Ariel Helwani defined on the “MMA Hour.” “It was like a ‘Hey, you wanna battle him, right here’s the quantity, take it or depart it.’ And [Stipe Miocic] was like, ‘Uuuuh,’ after which they only moved on.”

Jones stated he was already getting ready for the battle, however UFC president Dana White denied that it was set. King stories a battle in opposition to Stipe has “basically passed by the wayside.”

Plan B: Francis Ngannou (heavyweight champion)

Now that Plan A is seemingly shelved, the UFC has revealed it’s concentrating on one other title battle for Jones. It is clear that the UFC did not need to go this fashion proper off the bat. Placing Jones, an enormous money cow, up in opposition to one of many scariest males in all of fight sports activities, doubtlessly spoiling his profession at heavyweight, is not sensible. 

However the UFC additionally is aware of that the battle might herald large views, even when it places Jones in danger. 

The issue right here is that Ngannou is recovering from an damage and may not be prepared by March. The UFC might additionally run into the identical problem it had with Miocic in regard to a handbag. Ngannou has been vocal about his points with White, so this could possibly be an unimaginable bargaining chip for the champ. 

Plan C: Curtis Blaydes (ranked No. 3)

There isn’t any doubt this may be the least thrilling of the three plans, however that additionally means will probably be the best to make. Blaydes is coming off a 15-second TKO win over Tom Aspinall. The plus to this battle is that it might put Jones into the heavyweight division with out handing him a title shot.

However a win over Blaydes would not precisely earn him a title shot subsequent both. It virtually looks like a hurry-up-and-fight transfer. 

No matter occurs, a Jones heavyweight battle will get consideration, but it surely stays to be seen if that’ll be good or dangerous. 

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