Jon Jones may be plotting to become heavyweight champion in his next fight but he won’t even be on the UFC’s radar again until next year.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who addressed the former light heavyweight champion and his plans for the future after relinquishing his 205-pound title more than a year ago.
While all signs initially pointed towards Jones getting an immediate title shot at heavyweight, his continued battle with the UFC over his contract has now kept him sidelined since his last fight in February 2020. More recently, Jones stated that he was contemplating a return in 2022 as he continued to adjust his body to the move from light heavyweight to heavyweight.
“He’s not fighting till next year,” White said about Jones at the UFC 265 post-fight press conference. “It’s 2021. He’s not fighting until . I’m not even thinking about him until ’22.”
Considering Jones’ complaints aimed at the UFC over his compensation, it’s unknown how quickly he might be able to strike a deal for his return even when the promotion is ready to book him again.
Jones did retain former Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer as an advisor earlier this year to help him deal with the UFC on his contract but it doesn’t appear the two sides have even discussed an agreement at this time.
That means Jones will need to get his contract sorted and then hope the title picture at heavyweight gets cleared up before he’s set to return.
With Jones benched until next year, another name to consider in the division is former two-time champion Stipe Miocic, who has been clamoring for a trilogy with Ngannou after they split a pair of fights in the past.
Miocic won a lopsided decision against Ngannou in their first meeting in 2018 but “The Predator” got his revenge back in March when he knocked out the Ohio native in the second round to become UFC heavyweight champion.
Ever since that fight ended, Miocic has been calling for an immediate rematch to settle the score with Ngannou once and for all but he’s barely been mentioned lately where the heavyweight title is concerned.
“I don’t know,” White said when asked about what’s next for Miocic. “The beautiful thing about this division right now is we had this fight tonight. Now Francis versus Ciryl, you’ve got Jon Jones out there in 2022 and you got Stipe out there still, too. That means there’s a lot of fun coming up over the next year, year and a half.”
It also means a lot of uncertainty with both Jones and Miocic staking claims to a heavyweight title shot while it appears Ngannou won’t be able to even contemplate either of those potential opponents until a unification bout with Gane takes place first.