After a three-year layoff, Jon Jones is scheduled to return for a vacant UFC heavyweight title bout against Ciryl Gane.
The longterm light heavyweight champion spent years in the sidelines dealing with personal and legal issues, along with a long and very public contract dispute with the UFC. Unlike Francis Ngannou, who walked away from the UFC as champion, Jones was able to come to terms with the promotion and sign a lucrative new eight-fight deal.
Jones, who says he now feels “valued” by the company, shared a few details on how this planned heavyweight debut came together. He reveals being offered three heavyweights, and claimed that Dana White wasn’t really being truthful about a previous planned bout with Stipe Miocic.
“Dana said that there was never a Stipe fight on the line, but there was, there was,” Jones told The UG. “They just couldn’t come to an agreement.
“So I’ve been trying to prepare for Francis, I did a whole training camp preparing for Stipe, and now we got Ciryl Gane,” Jones said. “I’ve been ready for a long time. I’ve been training non-stop for three years, some days, three times a day.”
Jones ended up with a fight with Gane for the vacant heavyweight belt, but also notes how he preferred to face the other two heavyweight stars instead.
“It does (take something away),” Jones said about not having to fight Ngannou anymore. “I feel like Francis is the more intimidating of the two. I feel like he’s more known in America. Francis is this big scary intimidating man, where Ciryl is relatively unknown. Obviously Francis has the belt, so taking it from him would have been nice.
“The fight that meant the most to me was fighting Stipe Miocic, because Stipe is the greatest heavyweight of all time,” he continued. “I’m very honored to fight Ciryl Gane, and I knew that would be happening eventually, inevitably, but that’s the fight that I was really bummed didn’t happen.”
While he didn’t get a shot at Miocic, Jones says he’s already eying him next if he beats Gane and wins the heavyweight belt.