In the wake of Francis Ngannou’s exit from the UFC, and the booking of Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane for the now-vacant heavyweight championship, Stipe Miocic has spoken out.
Miocic (20-4), a two-time UFC heavyweight champion who holds the record for most title defenses in the weight class (3), addressed Saturday’s shocking news on social media.
“March 4th — I like it. I got winner in July,” Miocic wrote.
March 4th – I like it.
I got winner in July.
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) January 15, 2023
The Ohio-born 40-year old has not competed since March of 2021, when he was knocked out by Ngannou, losing his heavyweight title in the process. Ngannou would go on to defend the belt against Gane at the start of last year, then entered a protracted negotiation period with the UFC that ended with fighter and promotion parting ways, news that broke following UFC Vegas 67.
With the title vacant, Jon Jones finally gets to make his debut at heavyweight, against Gane rather than Ngannou. As for Stipe, who hasn’t been seen or heard from much since the Ngannou loss, UFC President Dana White told media outlets including Cageside Press on Saturday that Miocic was going “through some stuff,” which apparently kept him out of the Jones fight.
It appears that stuff will be resolved by July — though whether that bout comes to fruition remains to be seen. It would certainly come at the expense of Curtis Blaydes, who currently sits on a three-fight win streak. Blaydes happens to be ranked #4 at heavyweight, while Miocic, off a loss, sits at #2. Gane holds the top ranking, while Jones isn’t eligible to be ranked until he has fought in the weight class.
UFC.com shows Ngannou still listed as champion as of this writing, though that is likely to change shortly.
Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane headlines UFC 285 on March 4, 2023 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can bet Stipe Miocic will be a very interested observer.