After years of talk and nearly a decade of speculation, Jon Jones' heavyweight debut is finally set. Jones will face former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight championship in the main event of UFC 285 on March 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. UFC president Dana White confirmed the fight after photos of an advertisement for the fight on electronic billboards outside of T-Mobile Arena began circulating on Twitter.
In a corresponding move, Francis Ngannou has been removed as heavyweight champion and released from his contract. Ngannou is now a free agent and free to sign with any organization he wants, White said on Saturday.
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Jones has not fought since Feb. 8, 2020. In his most recent outing, Jones won a controversial decision over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. The win over Reyes was Jones' second consecutive controversial decision victory, following a split decision win over Thiago Santos. It was also the third successful title defense of Jones' second stint as UFC light heavyweight champion.
Jones only has lost once in his career, a disqualification to Matt Hamill in just his 10th pro fight. Every other blemish on Jones' career has been self inflicted. From a no-contest against Daniel Cormier as a result of a failed drug test, which also resulted in Jones being stripped of the title in 2017, to other failed drug tests and legal trouble outside of the cage.
It doesn't get bigger than this - UFC President @DanaWhite confirms that @JonnyBones will take on @Ciryl_Gane for the 𝐔𝐍𝐃𝐈𝐒𝐏𝐔𝐓𝐄𝐃 heavyweight championship at #UFC285 🏆— UFC (@ufc) January 15, 2023
[ March 4 | @TMobileArena | Tix On Sale Jan 20 at https://t.co/LJfHcNZo6J ] pic.twitter.com/oUpfPUMYXp
Jones has long talked about moving up to heavyweight and vacated his light heavyweight title after the win over Reyes in preparation of moving up but for nearly three years, no fight materialized.
Gane quickly emerged as one of the UFC's elite heavyweights, debuting in the promotion in just his fourth professional fight. After rattling off seven straight wins in the Octagon and winning the interim title, Gane got a shot at Francis Ngannou for the full world championship.
Ngannou, dealing with a knee injury at the time, struggled early before surprisingly using his wrestling to repeatedly take Gane down and grind out a decision to retain the title.