UFC 295: First appearance and key fight for Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic

July 12, 2023, 9:40 a.m. ET

Jon Jones will face Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 on November 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Their fight would be one of the biggest MMA fights of the year and one of the biggest heavyweight MMA fights in some time.

Jones is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and the most famous light heavyweight fighter in the history of the sport. He is now the UFC heavyweight champion after taking three years off to stop Ciryl Gane via first-round submission at UFC 285 in March.

Miocic, meanwhile, is the most successful heavyweight fighter in UFC history. He had four UFC heavyweight title defenses during his two reigns, the most in the division. He also defeated the likes of Ngannou, Daniel Cormier (twice) and other former champions such as Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum.

Jones vs Miocic has long been a dream fight, and fans will finally see it later this year. Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Ian Parker look at the fight, its significance, how it’s made and how it can go down in the Octagon in November.

What has Stipe been up to since fighting Ngannou? Will he be ready?



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Raimondi: Worked as a firefighter and paramedic in the Cleveland area. Not serious. Miocic was promoted to full-time firefighter last year and got a job at the new station. That and spending time with his young family have been Miocic’s focus since he ceded the title to Ngannou in March 2021. That doesn’t mean he isn’t training or ready to fight, though. There was a point last year when the UFC wanted Miocic back, but he had to ask for more time for a full training camp and the UFC went the other way. He has obligations with the fire department, and Miocic takes them very seriously. He wouldn’t be able to compete in a semi-short period of time.

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Around this time last year was the first time discussions about possibly Jones taking on Miocic started. Miocic will be dropping to do the fight last fall or winter. However, this came at a time when the UFC was still trying to negotiate with Ngannou, the UFC heavyweight champion at the time. And the opponent the UFC wants for Ngannou is Jones. So, Miocic is really nothing more than a backup option. We all know what happened next. Ngannou left the promotion, and the UFC brought back Jones to fight Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title.

The UFC could have picked Miocic to fight Jones then, but the UFC opted to follow Gane with the caveat that Miocic would get the winner. UFC President Dana White said this repeatedly during fight week at UFC 285 when Jones and Gane met – Miocic was next. Dan White complied with his offer, even though his initial hope was to put up a fight last weekend in Las Vegas for International Fight Week. Despite higher taxes for fighters in New York, Madison Square Garden isn’t bad entertainment.

Is this the fight that has to be made?



Jon Jones celebrates after Ciryl Gane’s first-round submission

Jon “Bones” Jones celebrates with his team after his first round win vs Ciryl Gane to win the UFC heavyweight championship.

Okamoto: Yes, but with a few asterisks. It’s a fight to make him the greatest heavyweight of all time (Jones) against the greatest heavyweight of all time (Miocic). Such narratives don’t appear very often, so when they do, it’s impossible to miss them.

The UFC has gone mad to book another fight for Jones besides this. However, I want to see Jones challenged as much as possible. Looks like he doesn’t have many fights left, so I want whatever he leaves behind to be of the highest quality. And I don’t know if Miocic is, with all due respect, the biggest competitive challenge for Jones at heavyweight right now. When this fight takes place, he will be 41 years old, stopping for 2½ years. I believe Miocic has the expertise and experience to offer Jones a challenge, but at the same time, would I rather see Jones go up against someone with youth and momentum on his side, like Sergei Pavlovich or Tom Aspinall.

From a direct fight perspective, yes, I’d rather see that fight. But again, this is all moot as Miocic offers so much more to gain in legacy and name value.

What’s at stake in this fight?

Stipe Miocic has not fought since March 2021. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Okamoto: Legacy of Jones. If Miocic does, wow. It would add an incredible chapter to his story and instantly become one of the biggest wins in UFC history. But at the same time, it’s not going to drastically change any narrative about Miocic. He is the greatest heavyweight of all time in this fight, and win or lose, he will still be the greatest heavyweight to come out of it.

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The stakes are higher for Jones. The win over Miocic, especially the memorable finish over Miocic, further added to Jones’ claim to be the greatest of all time. Many fans and observers already felt he was there, but when you talk about who is the greatest of all time, the line is thin between each candidate, right? There is always a debate to be had. But if Jones goes out and rips the greatest heavyweight of all time, his case as MMA GOAT starts to become undeniable. And on the other side of the coin, if he loses to Miocic, it will open the door to more possible GOAT cases from Georges St-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Demetrious Johnson and Anderson Silva.

It would also be the first legal loss of Jones’ career, which would be very significant.

What do you think about the opening betting line?

Jon Jones is considered one of the all-time greats in MMA, but can he beat the current heavyweight goat in Stipe Miocic? Sportswire icon

Parker: Right now, Jones is between -330 and -360, and those odds are very reasonable. Jones came back and ran past Cyril Gane, while Miocic has been inactive since 2021, when he dropped the belt to Ngannou.

Miocic would be a tougher opponent than Gane due to his wrestling background and being a technical boxer. However, a finish from Jones is still a likely outcome. At -330/-360 odds, I would see Jones as the anchor for any parlay you may have. After the extra line came out I would watch for over 1.5 rounds and Jones wins by the distance. As good as Stipe was, Jones would wear him down and eventually get the finish.

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