See the MMA community explode upon the confirmation of Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 286 — in addition to the release of Francis Ngannou
UFC President Dana White may have been very angry with the way the news of it came out, but the long-awaited return of Jon Jones is now official — and the ramifications of it are massive.
Following a sign for it at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas reportedly being released early, White confirmed that Jones would be taking on Ciryl Gane in the main event of UFC 285 on March 4. That fight will also be for the now-vacant UFC heavyweight championship.
White added that Francis Ngannou, the now-former UFC heavyweight champion, is being unconditionally released from his deal with the promotion. There is no matching period; Ngannou is free to sign with any promotion he chooses.
Twitter reacts to Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane booked for heavyweight title at UFC 285 following release of Francis Ngannou
This will mark Jones’s first fight in the Octagon since February 2020, when he controversially defeated Dominick Reyes to retain the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Since then, following a brief dispute with the UFC — which featured a potential fight with Ngannou falling through — where Jones at one point requested his release from the UFC, Jones has been preparing for a heavyweight debut.
Gane defeated Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 265 in August 2021 to become the interim heavyweight champion. This earned Gane a shot at Ngannou at UFC 270 a year ago — a fight Gane lost via decision, marking his sole loss in MMA thus far.
Gane rebounded with a finish of Tai Tuivasa at UFC Paris in September.
That win over Gane is Ngannou’s most recent fight. Ngannou, who had been heavyweight champion since defeating Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March 2021, failed to come to terms with the UFC. White claims the UFC’s final offer to Ngannou, which he turned down, would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in UFC history.
This news will now spark further speculation that Ngannou could be heading to the PFL and its new superfight division after a relative was seen in a social media post wearing a PFL shirt.