UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou Released, Jon Jones Returning to Challenge for Title

UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou Released, Jon Jones
Returning to Challenge for Title

UFC President Dana White had some big news to share after UFC Fight Night, revealing that UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou had been released from his contract, as the two parties were not able to come to terms on a new deal after two years of negotiations. White revealed that Ngannou is an unrestricted free agent and has been stripped of the Title (via Marc Raimondi), and it was confirmed that Jon Jones will be making his return to action for that very Title.

White said the deal UFC presented Ngannou would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the company's history and would have made him more than Brock Lesnar or anyone else, but he turned the deal down. White did also mention Ngannou's knee surgery, noting it could be an issue for him as well (via MMAJunkie).

So, per Dana White, Francis Ngannou is a free agent. Stripped of the title. Waived exclusive negotiating window, no matching rights clause. Unrestricted free agency for the best MMA heavyweight in the world.

-- Marc Raimondi (@marcraimondi) January 15, 2023

"We've been negotiating with (Ngannou) for more than two years," White said. "We offered Francis a deal that would've made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the history of the company - more than (Brock) Lesnar, more than anybody, and he turned the deal down."

Now the vacant Heavyweight Championship will be up for grabs at UFC 285, and Jones will make his long-rumored return to action at the event against Ciryl Gane. Jones hasn't fought since UFC 247 in February 2020, where he won against Dominick Reyes. Then Jones decided to move up to the Heavyweight division, and it was believed he could eventually face Ngannou when he did return, though that is not going to happen now.

As for Gane, he lost a Title unification match to Ngannou last year, and now he will face Jones to potentially become the new Heavyweight Champion. You can find the current card for UFC 285 below.

Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane

Derek Brunson vs. Dricus Du Plessis

Geoff Neal vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Viviane Araujo vs. Amanda Ribas

Bo Nickal vs. Jamie Pickett

Jessica Penne vs. Tabatha Ricci

Farid Basharat vs. Da'Mon Blackshear

Julio Arce vs. Cody Garbrandt

Mario Bautista vs. Guido Cannetti

Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Julian Marquez


Kamuela Kirk vs. Esteban Ribovics

UFC 285 will take place at the T-Mobile Arena on March 4th, 2023.

* This article was originally published here


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