Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has reportedly been booked for his much-anticipated comeback in March.
Jones is widely regarded as arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. He has been sidelined since facing Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020. Reyes has struggled competitively but was eventually edged out by Jones on the judges’ scorecards by a razor-thin decision that many thought could have gone away as well.
After the fight, Jones relinquished the 205lb title and declared his intention to move up to the heavyweight division in hopes of a superfight with reigning heavyweight king Francis Ngannou.
Almost three years after the announcement, “Bones” is still yet to set foot in the octagon. Contract disputes coupled with negotiation difficulties caused the matchup to fall apart.
Ngannou ended the final fight for his contract when he successfully defended his title against former interim champion Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January 2022. He was involved in a long public feud with promotion and company president Dana White. Although the organization would love to put Ngannou under an exclusive deal, his boxing ambitions saw him turn down several offers hoping to strike a better deal.
On January 14, French media company La Sueur accepted Twitter to share an alleged poster of a fight between Jones and Gane for UFC 285 on March 4th at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Even more surprisingly, the match is reportedly being held for the World Heavyweight Championship, raising doubts about Ngannou’s future in the UFC.
The sweat added that the photo was sent to them by Gane’s brother David.
‘Bon Gamin’ called Jones on January 12 and invited him to a cage competition at the reported event.
“Where are you at @JonnyBones? I’m free this March Vegas” tweeted Gane.
Gane puts in an impressive performance against fan favorite Tai Tuivasa in the headlining match of UFC Paris in September, the promotion’s big debut in France. Tuivasa faced a tough challenge and was the first fighter to score a knockdown against Gane, but eventually succumbed to some vicious body kicks and punches from the latter.
Ngannou’s head coach Eric Nicksick of MMA gym Xtreme Couture commented on the chances of a fight between his student and Jones. Although he wasn’t exactly sure of the time, he was confident that the showdown would come.
“I think it’s 50-50 to be honest when you talk business and schedule,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “From what I saw of Francis a couple of weeks ago I’m confident we can get him ready when we need to be ready for March but I think it cuts it short a bit because he had to go again go home and renew his visa.
“And then obviously they haven’t announced anything yet with his contract and where they stand, so 50-50 for me. I’m hoping for this thing and crossing my fingers that we can close this deal. If it’s not March, maybe it’s April or May or something like that. I know they’re shooting at March and that Jon Jones is the opponent.
“Everything else is out of my hands, but if they tell me, ‘Hey, we’re fighting on March 4th,’ we have our man ready, that’s for sure.”