Stipe Miocic a possibility to fight Jon Jones, says UFC's Dana White

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Jun. 28—It's been a while since Jon Jones last stepped inside an octagon for a UFC fight — since February 2020 to be exact.

It's been a while for Stipe Miocic, too. The two-time UFC heavyweight champion hasn't fought since March 2021, when he lost by a second-round knockout to Francis Ngannou, who won the title belt from Miocic with that KO.

Jones and Miocic have been rumored to fight for months, and UFC president Dana White gave an update on a possible matchup that will surely get plenty of buildup and hype.

While on the Jim Rome Show, White said Jones — the former light heavyweight champion who's bumping up to the heavyweight for the first time — is ready to make his heavyweight debut.

"We're just waiting for an opponent," White told Rome. "It's either gonna be Francis — depending on how long his knee is gonna take to recover — or Stipe Miocic."

Ngannou had knee surgery in March and recently said he's rehabbing the knee. Ngannou is hoping fight again before the end of 2022. His last fight was in January, when he defeated interim champ Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

"If everything goes well, I will be ready by the end of the year because it is going to be nine months," Ngannou recently said to TMZ. "(I want to be back in) late December or early next year."

Meanwhile, Miocic — who turns 40 in August — has been training at his gym Strong Style in Independence, according to his coach Marcus Marinelli. The training has not been in line for what he would normally endure preparing for a title fight.

"(Stipe's) been training, working out," Marinelli told The News-Herald June 10. "He comes in and helps with some of the boxers. He's not here every day, but he's here a couple days a week."

The rumors of Jones-Miocic started when the two were targeted to meet July 2 in Las Vegas. The latest rumor is the two fighting at some point in the fall.

On April 26, Jones tweeted: "Stipe is saying that he will be at his absolute peak in September. I'm disappointed but patient, I want the heavyweight goat at his absolute best. I'll wait until September. No excuses."

Stipe is saying that he will be at his absolute peak in September. I'm disappointed but patient, I want the heavyweight goat at his absolute best. I'll wait until September. No excuses

— BONY (@JonnyBones) April 26, 2022

The news of Ngannou wanting to next fight before the end of 2022 could have Miocic (20-4) playing the waiting game. If Ngannou (17-3) agrees to fight Jones, Miocic would probably have to wait until 2023 for his return. That could set up Miocic fighting the winner of Jones-Ngannou for the UFC heavyweight championship.

Or Ngannou could choose to wait himself, watch Jones-Miocic and take on the winner of that bout. There are also rumors of White making Jones-Miocic a fight for the interim heavyweight title.

How it plays out for Jones is the big question, as is how Jones will perform in his return. First, how Jones (26-1) adapts to competing at heavyweight is an unknown. Second, his likely return in the fall will mark nearly three years since he last fought.

"It's very interesting because I'm a huge believer in ring rust," said White about Jones' long absence from the UFC. "But for all the negative things you could say about Jon Jones and his personal life and things like that have happened, he's the best. He's definitely the best of all time."

Miocic is also navigating his own layoff — which in July marks 16 months. Marinelli said when and if a contract is signed for his fighter to take on Jones, Miocic will be ready.

"The grind is tough. How many five-round fights did he get ready for?" said Marinelli. "Training for a five-round fight over and over and over and over and over. He's headlining (UFC cards), and that wears you down mentally, physically, spiritually, every way possible. So I think he's just enjoying life and living without that pressure."