Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane set for UFC 285, Francis Ngannou is a free agent

Photo Courtesy: UFC

Jon Jones is set to fight for the first time in three years.

After a promotional ad appeared on the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, speculation began regarding Jones fighting Ciryl Gane, which reporter Ariel Helwani confirmed was the direction the company was moving toward and the ad was not a hoax.

Later that night, UFC president Dana White confirmed Jones and Gane will fight for the vacant UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 285 on March 4th.

White added that Francis Ngannou is no longer the heavyweight champion and is a free agent with the promotion waiving its rights to match any competing offers. White stated they offered Ngannou a deal that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the promotion’s history and added that it was more than they paid Brock Lesnar. Ngannou has not spoken publicly regarding the accuracy of that statement or provided his side of the negotiating process.

The 35-year-old Jones will be making his heavyweight debut and will be his first fight since February 2020 when he narrowly beat Dominick Reyes by unanimous decision at UFC 247.

Since his last fight, Jones faced a DWI charge in March 2020 for possession of a firearm. In September 2021, he was accused of domestic battery involving his ex-fiance in a charge that was dropped. During the same 2021 incident, he was facing a charge of felony tampering for allegedly striking a police vehicle with his head and making threats to officers. The fighter pleaded no contest and paid $750 in restitution while also being sent to attend anger management classes.

Gane, 32, lost to Ngannou by unanimous decision at UFC 270 last January and rebounded with a knockout win against Tai Tuivasa in September in Paris, France.

UFC 285 will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and will be the promotion’s first U.S. pay-per-view of 2023 following events in Brazil and Australia.

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Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.