It has been revealed in the last few hours that Jon Jones is set to make his UFC return and his heavyweight debut in March at UFC 285 in Las Vegas.
An image was posted online several hours ago of a graphic promoting UFC 285 outside of the T-Mobile Arena where UFC 285 will take place. This image leaked that Jon Jones will indeed be facing Ciryl Gane for the UFC heavyweight championship in his return fight and heavyweight debut.
-- The outside of the T-Mobile Arena right now!------— MMA Orbit (@mma_orbit) January 14, 2023
-- @LaSueur_off #UFC285 #UFC #MMA pic.twitter.com/BCH65UcarW
As the graphic says, Jones vs Gane will be for the UFC heavyweight championship which is of course currently held by Francis Ngannou. This initially confused fans but Ariel Helwani took to Twitter shortly after the news of Jones' return hit and revealed that the UFC are indeed planning on stripping Ngannou of the title and Jones vs Gane will be for the vacant belt.
You can see the video of Helwani explaining the situation below.
Jon Jones x Ciryl Gane? For the belt?— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 14, 2023
Here’s everything I know as of right this moment. pic.twitter.com/SMp3VgYJsW
Just minutes before Helwani posted this video, Michael Wonsover, who works with Henry Cejudo to manage his YouTube cbmhannel, posted a video of Jones confirming the news that he will be fighting Gane in his return fight and he also revealed that if they're schedules align, Cejudo will be in his corner as they have been working together lately.
Just spoke with Jon Jones after a training session with @HenryCejudo in Phoenix. He confirms the upcoming heavyweight title fight with Cyril Gane, and also says he plans to have Cejudo in his corner if their schedules align. #UFC285 pic.twitter.com/3ItpnKY4ni— Michael Wonsover (@The_MDubb) January 14, 2023
This is an incredibly exciting, albeit risky return fight for Jones but it was pretty much always expected that when/if Jones would ever make his return it would be for the UFC heavyweight title as he has been preparing for a heavyweight move for almost three years
There also will be obvious question marks as to why Francis Ngannou is getting stripped of the title.
Ngannou has one fight left on his UFC contract and surely the UFC would've wanted that last fight to be as big as possible with a hugely anticipated world title fight against Jones who he has been targeting for years.