Former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is looking at things both ways. While Miocic is understandably disappointed that he won’t get a trilogy fight with the recently released Francis Ngannou, he also knows the show must go on and will recognize the winner of the upcoming Ciryl Gane vs. Jon Jones bout at UFC 285 as the heavyweight champion.
Miocic, 40, has been out of action since suffering a 2nd round KO to Ngannou at UFC 260. It was a stunning reversal of fortunes as Miocic handily defeated Ngannou by decision a few years prior at UFC 220. The former champion assumed he would get another chance to settle the score and regain his title, but things didn’t come to pass.
Speaking on The MMA Hour, Miocic said:
“Listen, it’s his decision. I wish he would’ve stayed because I wanted another crack at him. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way, but listen, he’s doing what’s best for him and his family. He thinks it’s the right way to go, and it’s his decision. I wish him nothing but the best and I hope it works out.”
Miocic further stated “[Ngannou] is gone. “So whoever has that belt is the champ.”
Two-time champion Miocic has also been linked to facing Jones, though that fight never came to fruition. Miocic instead fought Jones’ rival, Daniel Cormier, beating him twice in their fantastic three-fight series from 2018-2020.
Miocic logical choice to fight Gane/Jones winner
With Miocic inactive since the loss to Ngannou, and considering the poor state of the heavyweight division, Miocic remains the best contender available for the winner of the UFC 285 title fight. Jones’ heavyweight aspirations began during Miocic’s reign, and should he manage to beat Gane, it would remain a major fight. Gane has already gone through the division with the exception of Miocic, and it would be a huge boost to his credentials beating two fighters considered to be all-time greats.
The heavyweight division is a bit of a wasteland right now. Outside of Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall, the division is littered with gatekeepers and also-rans. It goes to show that despite the inactivity, Miocic is the #2 heavyweight behind Gane in the rankings. Miocic might not match up well against Gane, but if he has enough in the tank, he could be a lot of trouble for Jones depending on how he looks at UFC 285.
If the UFC couldn’t give Ngannou a fair shake, we can only hope they’ll do their already forgotten champion a solid and get him a major fight some time this year.