Mar. 5—Stipe Miocic had a front-row view of Jon Jones' return to UFC on March 4.
What a return it was for Jones, who made quick work of Ciryl Gane in their fight for the vacant heavyweight championship at UFC 285 in Las Vegas. Jones won in the first round via a submission hold.
Watching intently was Miocic, and so were the thousands in attendance and the millions watching from their home. Their thoughts were likely that UFC 285 was just an appetizer for UFC fans really want.
Doesn't matter who takes it, @StipeMiocic wants to take on the winner! #UFC285 pic.twitter.com/X5dPEe8Pai
— UFC (@ufc) March 5, 2023
That's a mega-super fight between Miocic and Jones. Fans are about to get their wish.
Shortly after UFC 285 was complete, UFC president Dana White confirmed Jones will next fight Miocic. The announcement ends about a year of Jones-Miocic speculation and rumors, and will mark the return of Miocic after two years away from the octagon.
"Nothing's gonna change," Miocic told ESPN reporter Megan Olivi. "I'm gonna train my a** off and beat that a**."
March 5 marked Jones' return to UFC after a three-year layoff. It was his first at heavyweight after years dominating at light heavyweight.
When a date and site for Miocic-Jones is officially confirmed, it could be dubbed the battle of the GOATs, and with good reason. Many consider Jones one of the greatest — if not the greatest — fighters in UFC history, regardless of division.
Stipe Miocic defeated Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 in Boston on Jan. 20, 2018. (Tim Phillis ??
Jones has said Miocic, an Eastlake North graduate and Northeast Ohio firefighter, in the greatest UFC heavyweight ever, and also with good reason. Miocic is the only heavyweight to defend the belt three consecutive times. He owns notable victories against four former UFC heavyweight champions Daniel Cormier (twice), Francis Ngannou (in 2018), Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum.
"Y'all want to see me beat up Stipe?" Jones said to Joe Rogan after his victory over Gane. "Stipe Miocic, I hope you're training, my guy. You're the greatest heavyweight of all time, and that's what I want. I want you. Real bad."
Jon Jones warns Stipe Miocic: 'Take time off from being a firefighter' pic.twitter.com/HbB9QzrFjl
— XcellentMMA (@XcellentMMA) March 5, 2023
Jones then followed up in his post-fight news conference:
"I say this respectfully to Stipe. I would take time off from being a firefighter right now, and I mean that with all respect. My whole world is going to be focused on him. This is the biggest opportunity in my life, to beat the heavyweight GOAT and I'm going to give it everything I've got."
Speculation of Miocic-Jones being contested July 8 at UFC 290 in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena has already begun. During his post-UFC 285 news conference, White said Miocic-Jones is next but the date has not been determined.
"I don't know when, but he's definitely fighting Stipe," White told reporters about Jones' next opponent.
Miocic did media rounds in the post-fight, and told ESPN's Brett Okamoto about fighting Jones, "I have to wait until July."
He also said about Jones' performance: "He looked big. He's a big boy. He's 6-4, 247. I'm bigger than that, so that's OK."
When asked what Jones should expect from him when the super fight finally happens, Miocic said: "Something he's never seen before."
For most of 2022, Miocic was rumored to be an opponent for Jones. First, the rumor was last July, and when that past September 2022 was the next possibility. Finally, there were rumors of a possible bout last December.
Now it appears the summer is when the big fight will finally happen. Miocic last stepped into the octagon in March 2021, when he was knocked out by former champion Francis Ngannou in Round 2 of the main event at UFC 260.