The UFC has just announced Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title in March, and it looks like they may have a solid follow-up to that in the wings.
Former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic — who just so happens to hold the record for most heavyweight title defenses in UFC history — appeared on Twitter for the first time since the start of December to call dibs on the winner of Jones vs. Gane.
“March 4th – I like it,” Miocic wrote. “I got winner in July.”
Miocic hasn’t fought since a second round KO loss to Francis Ngannou in March 2021. That didn’t stop him from being named the next best option should Ngannou leave the UFC without fighting Jon Jones. There was even talk of Jones vs. Miocic headlining UFC 282 in December, but the UFC reportedly didn’t put too much effort into securing Stipe’s services.
March 4th – I like it.
I got winner in July.
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) January 15, 2023
“They didn’t really come correct with an offer – and that’s really what happened here,” The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani said back in November. “It was like a ‘Hey, you wanna fight him, here’s the amount, take it or leave it.’ And [Stipe Miocic] was like ‘Uuuuh,’ and then they just moved on.”
So that tells you how much respect the UFC is granting to a man who has the statistical right to call himself the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. Will he be able to return after over two years away from the sport right into a title shot? Maybe not, but perhaps a match-up against Curtis Blaydes or Sergei Pavlovich in the meantime could help lock things in.
Blaydes is currently on a three fight win streak, but his last win was a wonky one after Tom Aspinall blew his knee out just 15 seconds into their contest. Not many people are lining up to face him, but Miocic would be a very interesting opponent given his wrestling credentials. Pavlovich is on a five fight KO run, and he just KO’d Tai Tuivasa in his last outing in December. That would be another great fight.
The UFC heavyweight division has been in a strange state of limbo for the last year as the promotion and Francis Ngannou played a game of chicken over his future with the company. Stipe has been out for nearly two years. Jon Jones has been out for even longer. Just the idea of the heavyweight title being fought for in March and then again in July is beautiful to contemplate.
Let’s hope things come together and that happens, no matter who ends up holding the belt and who might challenge for it.