Stipe Miocic had a front row seat to witness Jon Jones become the new heavyweight champion in the UFC 285 main event but his biggest concern was getting his own shot at the title.
Already guaranteed to get the first crack at Jones later this year, the now 40-year-old Cleveland native didn’t seem overly impressed by what he witnessed on Saturday night, although he admitted the way the fight played out surprised him.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to a decision,” Miocic said during the UFC 285 post-fight show. “I didn’t know how Jon was, he took three years off but hats off to him. You see some things, I’ll keep them to myself but I definitely see some things [I can use].
“It’s a fight, he won, good for him. Hats off, but unfortunately he’s got to fight me in July.”
Miocic has been anxiously awaiting his opportunity to compete for heavyweight gold again after he lost his belt to Francis Ngannou back in March 2021.
He initially tried to get an immediate rematch after splitting a pair of fights with Ngannou but his wish wasn’t granted. Now after two years away, Miocic is ready to return with UFC president Dana White promising him the first shot at Jones now that he’s champion.
While he didn’t get much material to work with considering Jones needed just over two minutes to dispatch Gane by submission, Miocic still sounds confident that he’ll have plenty of surprises in store once he sets foot in the octagon again.
“He’s a big boy,” Miocic said about Jones. “He’s 6-foot-4, 247 [pounds] or something like that. I’m bigger than that. We’re all big boys at heavyweight. I actually weigh more than both of them right now. I actually weigh 253 [pounds] so it’s kind of nice.
“I think a lot of things [about the fight]. Just something he hasn’t seen before. I know it’s cliché and everyone says it but honestly that’s the truth.”
As he’s previously stated, Miocic was actually hoping he would have the opportunity to welcome Jones to heavyweight but the UFC opted to give the fight to Gane instead.
That delayed Miocic’s plans to return to action but he promises that training camp has already started as he targets a showdown against Jones at UFC 290 scheduled on July 8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Nothing’s going to change,” Miocic said. “I’m going to train my ass off and I’m going to beat that ass. Yes, 100 percent no questions [I want July]. I wanted this fight in March, it just didn’t work out. They gave it to Ciryl but unfortunately I’ll wait until July, it’s fine.
“You’ll see in July. You’ll see what the difference is, I’ll tell you right now.”
As much as Miocic wants July, White wasn’t ready to commit to booking the fight on that date just yet, although it would make sense for one of the marquee cards in 2023. International Fight Week is traditionally a huge focus for the UFC each year so Jones vs. Miocic would certainly qualify as a massive main event for that card.
Add to that, Conor McGregor is expected to return against Michael Chandler but that fight won’t take place until after The Ultimate Fighter 31 finishes airing in August. That would give Jones and Miocic the chance to take the spotlight in July with the heavyweight title going up for grabs.