Jon Jones’ UFC return will come against Francis Ngannou or Stipe Miocic, says Dana White

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UFC president Dana White has confirmed that Jon Jones’ comeback fight will come against Francis Ngannou or Stipe Miocic.

Jones (26-1, 1 No Contest) is seen by most fans as one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, despite his indiscretions in and out of the ring, and he has held the promotion’s light heavyweight title three times.

The American’s first reign ended when he was stripped of the title in 2015 after being arrested on felony hit-and-run charges, before his second stint as champion ended when he was stripped of the belt due to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Jones, who also tested positive for PEDs in 2018, has had numerous run-ins with the law. His most recent title reign ended voluntarily, though, when he vacated the gold while targeting a move up to heavyweight.

Jones, 34, last competed in February 2020, retaining the light heavyweight title with a controversial points win against Dominick Reyes. It was shortly after that contest that Jones relinquished the belt, but his heavyweight debut has still not materialised amid a pay dispute with the UFC.

White, however, has now said that Jones’ next outing will either see him challenge heavywight champion Francis Ngannou or Stipe Miocic – the man Ngannou dethroned in 2021.

“Jon Jones is ready to go,” White said on The Jim Rome Show. “We’re just waiting for an opponent.

Francis Ngannou (right) and Stipe Miocic have traded wins in UFC heavyweight title fights (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Francis Ngannou (right) and Stipe Miocic have traded wins in UFC heavyweight title fights (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“It’s either going to be [Ngannou], depending on how long his knee is going to take to recover, or Stipe Miocic.”

Miocic, 39, held the UFC heavyweight title between 2016 and 2019, then again from 2018 to 2021. The American’s three straight successful defences during his first reign marked a record in the division.

One of those defences came via a masterful peformance against Ngannou, whom Miocic (20-4) outpointed comprehensively in early 2018. The Cameroonian would avenge that loss three years later, however, living up to his reputation as the UFC’s deadliest puncher ever by knocking out Miocic in Round 2.

With that victory, Ngannou (17-3) finally won the UFC heavyweight title, and his first defence came this January against former teammate Ciryl Gane, who entered the bout as interim champion.

Ngannou won via decision after a surprisingly efficient display of wrestling. The 35-year-old had entered the fight injured, which only enhanced the impressiveness of his win but also led him to require surgery shortly after the bout.

As such, Ngannou is not expected back in the Octagon until the end of this year at the earliest. The “Predator” is also keen on a crossover fight with WBC boxing champion Tyson Fury.