Richard Schaefer, the longtime boxing executive who helped negotiate Jon Jones’ new contract, is confident the new heavyweight champion will hold the belt as long as he wants.
“There’s nobody who’s going to beat him at heavyweight, or for that matter, anywhere else,” Schaefer told MMA Fighting.
Jones quickly submitted Gane, the former interim champ, this past Saturday at UFC 285 and then teed up a fight with a cageside Stipe Miocic. The former champion told reporters prior to the event that the promotion told him UFC 290 would host their fight if Jones won.
Miocic on Monday told The MMA Hour that he plans to hand Jones his first legitimate MMA loss. Jones is a favorite in an early betting line.
Schaefer said he’s had no direct discussions with the UFC about the July 8 pay-per-view event. But he sees no obstacles to making the matchup with Jones, who restructured a previous eight-fight contract to get a bump that the UFC said made ‘Bones’ the highest-paid heavyweight.
“It sounds like Stipe wants to fight Jon,” Schaefer said. “I’m sure UFC is going to come up with the right date and the right structure and and we can see that fight.”
Jones initially targeted a fight with now-former heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou before a dispute over pay led to him relinquishing the light heavyweight title in advance of a move to heavyweight.
After watching Jones dismantle Gane, Schaefer is more certain in his judgement that Jones would have beaten Ngannou.
“This wasn’t just a win – it was a statement,” he said. “I’ve been in combat sports now for so long...this is one of the most impressive victories I have ever seen from a combat sports athlete, and I promoted some of the greatest fighters, including Floyd Mayweather, in his biggest wins. But this was just extremely impressive. You can’t always make a direct comparison – you can’t really say Francis Ngannou needed five rounds [against Gane] and won the decision, and look what Jon did.
“But I think anyone who has doubts...Francis would have no chance against Jon. That’s pretty much what it is. So he probably made a smart move to leave the UFC.”
Ngannou added a little dig to his post-UFC 285 congratulations to Jones by calling himself the “heavyweight king.” In response, Jones dropped his pleasant demeanor and called the former champ an expletive.
Schaefer said he’d like to see Jones vs. Ngannou as a fan, but it won’t happen any time soon.
“Sometimes these athletes, they feel the grass is greener on the other side, and most often it’s not,” the rep said. “I think that I’d like to see that fight. People might disagree with me. I would be very sure that Jon would win, but you never know. I mean, it’s sports, it’s a two guys in the octagon. So you never know.
“I do hope that somehow, even though [UFC President] Dana [White] was very clear that [Ngannou is] never gonna come back, as they say, never is a long time. If it makes sense for UFC from a financial point of view, I think they’ll be open to do that fight.
“This is now something which I can help, because I do have a nice relationship with people with Francis. If I could help to smooth the way and try to get that fight done and be sort of like, an intermediary, to get two sides on the same page, I’ll be happy to do that, because I do think it’s why people would want to see. I told [UFC CBO] Hunter [Campbell] and Dana that before, a year ago, I said I do believe that that fight would break pay-per-view records.”
Schaefer also teased an announcement early next week about his next promotional venture. The Probellum boxing firm he helped establish in 2021 quickly ran into trouble due to alleged links between mob boss Daniel Kinahan, who is under U.S. sanctions.