With the former 205-pound champion remaining at odds with the UFC over his contract for a return to action at heavyweight, UFC president Dana White isn’t holding up the division with plans already in place for the next title fight as well as potentially a new No. 1 contender.
“Jon Jones is under contract,” White said recently on “The Jake Asman Show.” “He has a contract. We have tried to work with him and see if there are things we can do to make him want to fight at heavyweight. But if he doesn’t want to fight at heavyweight, he doesn’t want to at the end of the day. What are you going to do? You can’t make the guy fight.
“The reality is Derrick Lewis is really the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight championship right now. So it doesn’t matter if Jon Jones wants to fight or doesn’t want to fight.”
While no date has been confirmed, new heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is already expected to clash with Lewis in a rematch with the title going up for grabs later this year.
Ngannou fell to Lewis in their previous meeting — a largely forgettable three round affair back in 2018 — and now all signs are pointing towards them clashing again later this year.
Lewis has won his past four fights in a row including a stunning knockout against Curtis Blaydes in his last outing and when combined with the past win over Ngannou, it’s easy to understand why he’s getting the next title shot.
That said, Jones was originally expected to get the first crack at Ngannou after he became champion but the inability to come to terms with him on a deal for his heavyweight debut nixed that possibility.
White then mentioned perhaps Jones could debut at heavyweight with a fight against Miocic instead but the former light heavyweight champion shot down that idea as well.
In the end, it looks like Miocic might become the biggest beneficiary with the opportunity to reclaim the heavyweight title while Jones remains sidelined for an undetermined amount of time.
“Jon Jones made it very clear that he has no interest in fighting Stipe, so it doesn’t really matter,” White said. “What you do is you do the fight with Derrick Lewis and Francis and then Stipe gets the winner.”