Stipe Miocic could be right back in the championship picture when he returns.
The two-time UFC heavyweight champion has not fought since dropping the belt to Francis Ngannou in March 2021, but claims the UFC has told him he will challenge the winner of Saturday’s UFC 285 vacant heavyweight title main event between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane this July.
“They said International Fight Week,” Miocic said in an interview with former rival Daniel Cormier. “That’s what I was told.”
Miocic first held the heavyweight belt in May 2016 after a first-round knockout of Fabricio Werdum. He went on to set the record for most successful defenses of the UFC heavyweight title at three, before losing it to Cormier and then regaining it in an instant rematch. He defeated Cormier a second time to conclude their trilogy.
With Jones recently committing to a heavyweight move, Miocic openly campaigned to be the fighter to welcome “Bones” to the division, but he says the timing never worked out to make that fight happen.
“I think miscommunication,” Miocic said. “I was down for the fight, I just think they went in a different direction every time. Nothing against the UFC, they’re just trying to make the fights, I get it, and unfortunately it just wasn’t my time again. There was only one time I just couldn’t fight because I physically wasn’t ready, I had a lot going on. I said, ‘I can’t do it in eight weeks, I can do it in 12.’ They said, ‘No, it’s OK, we’re doing it.’ It just didn’t work out.”
Miocic was even taken off guard when Ngannou defended his title against Gane in January 2022 as opposed to taking a rematch with Miocic, even though the timing still wouldn’t have worked out.
“When Francis and Ciryl fought, they didn’t even ask if I wanted the fight,” Miocic said. “I wouldn’t have taken it because I was having a baby and all that, but what about me, guys?”
Asked for a prediction for the UFC 285 headliner, Miocic leaned towards Gane, favoring the French fighter’s activity on the feet and the size advantage he has as a natural heavyweight.
But if Miocic turns out to be correct, will he be disappointed to not be the one to hand Jones his first true loss?
“Of course, I would love to cement my legacy even more,” Miocic said. “But [either Jones or Gane] is a good fight, and whoever it is, I’ll take whoever the winner is and beat that ass.”