Former champion Jon Jones will make his third UFC appearance in March, when he takes on Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title.
Jones, who hasn’t fought since defeating Dominick Reyes in February 2020, relinquished his light-heavyweight title due to a pay disagreement.
On March 4, he was scheduled to face heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou at UFC 285 in Las Vegas.
Ngannou, however, has left the UFC, according to UFC president Dana White.
The 35-year-old American Jones, widely regarded as one of the best mixed martial arts fighters of all time, has a 26-1 record at light-heavyweight but will make his heavyweight debut against Frenchman Gane at the T-Mobile Arena.
‘The greatest talent in MMA history’
Ngannou was offered a contract that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in UFC history, according to White.
“We did everything we could to make this fight happen and give him a fight, but he has convinced himself that there are bigger opportunities outside of the UFC with lesser opponents,” said White, who apologized earlier this month for slapping his wife on New Year’s Eve.
“That is something we will allow him to do. We’re going to let him out of his contract. We’re giving up our right to match, and he’ll be free to go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants.”
Jones holds the record for being the UFC’s youngest champion, having won the title for the first time at the age of 23. He successfully defended it 11 times in a row, with the only defeat coming from a disqualification.