The UFC’s heavyweight title picture is a mess. What had seemed to be an obvious series of next steps for the promotion has devolved into a morass of holdouts, interim belts, bickering, and strongarm tactics—as Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones try to negotiate their way toward a ‘superfight’ and the UFC tries to wash their hands of the whole idea.
Which may have left some fans and pundits with the idea that, if the UFC is dead set on getting their way, there might still be a heavyweight fight or two out there for Jon Jones to take—if only to make sure that he kept his name active in the conversation around the title picture at 265 lbs. The most promising of those potential bouts would be one between Jon Jones and the recently deposed Stipe Miocic.
Miocic carved out a solid legacy by grabbing the record for most title defenses in UFC heavyweight history and still has some shine to his name, despite losing to Ngannou in the rematch of their 2018 bout. A fight between Jones and Miocic would still feel like a big, important fight. And whoever walked away with the victory would be a surefire contender for the man that holds the belt after Ngannou and Gane meet in the coming months.
If all that sounds like an acceptable (if not preffered) idea, however, it doesn’t seem like something we’re likely to see. At least not after hearing from Jones’ coach, Mike Winklejohn, who spoke about the idea of Jones vs. Miocic on a recent episode of Submission Radio.
“It doesn’t really excite me,” Winklejohn said of the potential matchup. “I would assume – It has nothing to do with what excites me or not, I would think the same thing, from the outside looking in, I would think that wouldn’t excite Jon. I think Jon wants the big one, he wants to get the big one, he wants the big challenge. And right now Stipe is not there. Stipe is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but Jon wants the biggest challenge out there. That’s how Jon Jones thinks.”
“That’s just me talking. For me, that doesn’t seem that exciting for Jon. It doesn’t make sense. Makes sense to go after the title, cause honestly, Jon is the best pound-for-pound of all time, so why would he have just a normal fight? Unless we felt we needed that to get used to our new body. I don’t think we’re gonna need that. I think Jon is already getting used to his new size. So, there’s not a necessity to take a step-up fight. Jon’s ready to go, he wants the challenge.”
Winklejohn added that he does think Jones will still return to the UFC at some point, even if the former light heavyweight king had to take “three or four years off.”
“Heavyweights are fighting until they’re older,” Winklejohn explained, “so I don’t know. I time’s actually on Jon’s side.”