Highlights from the UFC 285 post-fight press conference with UFC president Dana White.
By Tom Albano
As the UFC begins a stretch of about a month that will see three pay-per-views, UFC 285 — featuring the highly anticipated return of Jon Jones — proved to be quite the memorable occasion.
In the main event, Jones arguably cemented his GOAT status and became one of just a handful of fighters to claim UFC titles in two different weight classes. In his long-awaited first appearance at heavyweight, Jones made quick work of Ciryl Gane to capture the UFC heavyweight championship.
That only followed a nutty co-main event that saw Alexa Grasso submit Valentina Shevchenko to become the new UFC women's flyweight champion in upset fashion.
There were for sure no short of talking points for UFC President Dana White as he did his usual discussion with the media following the event.
Here's what we learned from UFC president Dana White following UFC 285
1. Dana White emphasized that Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou will never happen
Those were White's words to the media on Friday when asked about the potential idea that Francis Ngannou can return to the UFC.
Ngannou had been the UFC heavyweight champion since knocking out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March 2021. He successfully defended the title against then-interim champion Gane at UFC 270 in January 2022 and then took time off to heal from a damaged ACL and MCL.
Rumors about Jones vs. Ngannou stretch back to 2020, when the two teased a bout while the status of the then-heavyweight title rivalry between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier hung in the air — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the fight never got made as each man went into a dispute with the UFC.
After plenty of negotiation, Ngannou and the UFC parted ways in January, with the UFC heavyweight title being vacated in the process.
At the UFC 285 post-fight press conference, White re-affirmed his claim that Ngannou will never be in the Octagon again — and hinted that he thinks Jones would have dominated Ngannou in the same way Jones made quick work of Gane.
"I tried to make that fight," White said. "Done. Never going to happen. We tried to make that fight with him for three years. You got to want that fight. Listen, we all want to see a fight. The guys got to want to fight. If Francis doesn't want the fight, you can't make him fight. And I doubt it would have gone any differently."
2. Dana White discussed future welterweight matchups; feels Khamzat Chimaev should be a middleweight
The UFC may have a new top welterweight contender on its hands, as Shavkat Rakhmonov scored a last-minute submission of Geoff Neal, in a fight that earned the UFC 285 Fight of the Night honors, to remain undefeated.
The fight shows that Rakhmonov may be ready for the upper echelon of the UFC's 170-pound contenders. It seems Rakhmonov has a name in mind, too, as he called out former interim champion Colby Covington in his post-fight interview.
Covington hasn't been seen defeating Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272 a year ago. According to White, Covington has accepted fights but things just haven't worked out. A bout with Rakhmonov has his interest, however — especially since Gilbert Burns and Masvidal are booked with one another at UFC 287 next month.
"That's a fun one," White said. "Colby's ready to fight anybody. We've reached out to him for a couple of different fights, and he's said yes to [them], but it just didn't work out."
Another name that has come up in previously rumored Covington opponents has been Khamzat Chimaev. The 12-0 fighter sits at No. 3 in the welterweight rankings, looking in prime positioning for a title shot against the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3.
White, however, hinted at his hope Chimaev will eventually move up to middleweight on a permanent basis after one media member asked about a report of Chimaev moving up to 185 for good. Chimaev has competed at both 170 and 185 throughout his career.
"I hope so. I think that's a good idea," White said.
3. Dana White hints at tension-filled moments between Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler on The Ultimate Fighter
Two of the many fighters and celebrities present in Las Vegas for UFC 285 were Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler, who will be the two opposing coaches on the upcoming 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter.
While the show is currently in filming, a number of leaks about the drama and tension around the season have already come out. These range from McGregor removing fighters from the show in favor of some of his own names and Chandler accusing McGregor of being drunk and handing out alcohol to fighters.
During a media session, Chandler alluded to increasing tension between him and McGregor.
White stated things between the two started okay but escalated to the point where the two had an incident that the UFC president feels got out of control when it didn't have to.
"Chandler and Conor were very respectful to each other," White said. "And then some things started escalating that you'll see on the show, and they do not like each other now. A lot of s*** went down on Friday."