Jon Jones will face Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 on Nov. 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Their matchup is set to be one of the biggest MMA fights of the year and one of the biggest heavyweight MMA fights in some time.
Jones is the longtime former UFC light heavyweight champion and the most acclaimed light heavyweight fighter in the sport’s history. He is now the UFC heavyweight champion after having taken three years off to bulk up 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 has four UFC heavyweight title defenses over two reigns, the most ever in the division. He has also beaten the likes of Ngannou, Daniel Cormier (twice) and other former champs like Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum.
Jones vs. Miocic has long been a dream matchup, and fans will finally get to see it later this year. Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Ian Parker look at the fight, its significance, how it got made and how it might go down in the Octagon in November.
What has Stipe been doing since fighting Ngannou? Will he be ready?
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Joe Rogan and Dominick Cruz discuss the historical implications of Stipe Miocic’s victory over Daniel Cormier in the heavyweight title fight at UFC 252.
Raimondi: Working as a firefighter and paramedic in the Cleveland area. No, seriously. Miocic was promoted to a full-time firefighter last year and got a job at a new station. That and spending time with his young family have been Miocic’s focus since he dropped the title to Ngannou in March 2021. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been training or ready to fight, though. There was one 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 in another direction. He has obligations with the fire department, and Miocic takes them very seriously. He would not have been able to compete on semi-short notice.
Around this time last year was the first time discussions about the possibility of Jones facing Miocic started. Miocic would have been down to do the fight last fall or winter. However, this was during a period when the UFC was still trying to negotiate with Ngannou, then the UFC heavyweight champion. And the opponent the UFC wanted for Ngannou was Jones. So, Miocic wasn’t really anything more than a backup option then. We all know what happened next. Ngannou departed the promotion, and the UFC brought back Jones to fight Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title.
The UFC could have tabbed Miocic to fight Jones then, but it chose to go with Ngannou with the caveat that Miocic would get the winner. UFC president Dana White said repeatedly during UFC 285 fight week when Jones and Gane met — Miocic was next. And White lived up to his end of the bargain, though the hope initially was to do the fight this past weekend in Las Vegas for International Fight Week. Despite the heftier taxes on fighters in New York, Madison Square Garden isn’t a bad consolation.
Was this the fight to make?
Jon Jones celebrates after first-round submission of Ciryl Gane
Jon “Bones” Jones celebrates with his team after his first-round victory vs. Ciryl Gane to win the UFC heavyweight championship.
Okamoto: Yes, but with several asterisks. It’s the fight to make in that it’s the greatest of all time (Jones) against the greatest heavyweight of all time (Miocic). That kind of narrative doesn’t come along very often, so when it does, it’s impossible to pass it up.
The UFC would have been out of its mind to book any other fight for Jones than this. However, I would like to see Jones challenged as much as possible. It seems he doesn’t have many fights left, so I want whatever he has left to be of the highest quality. And I don’t know if Miocic, with all respect, is the biggest competitive challenge for Jones at heavyweight right now. When this fight happens, he will be 41, coming off a 2½-year layoff. I believe Miocic has the skill set and experience to offer Jones a challenge, but at the same time, would I prefer to see Jones fight someone with youth and momentum on his side, like Sergei Pavlovich or Tom Aspinall.
From a straight-up matchup perspective, yes, I would prefer to see those fights. But again, this is all moot because Miocic offers so much more upside in legacy and name value.
What’s at stake in this fight?
Okamoto: Jones’ legacy. If Miocic pulls it off, wow. It would add an amazing chapter to his story and instantly be one of the biggest wins in UFC history. But at the same time, it wouldn’t drastically change any narrative about Miocic. He is the greatest heavyweight of all time going into this fight, and win or lose, he’ll still be the greatest heavyweight going out of it.
The stakes are higher for Jones. A win over Miocic, especially a memorable finish over Miocic, further adds to Jones’s claim as the greatest of all time. Many fans and observers already feel he’s there, but when you’re talking about who is the greatest of all time, the margins are slim between each candidate, right? There’s always a debate to be had. But if Jones goes out and tears through the greatest heavyweight of all time, his case as the MMA GOAT starts to become irrefutable. And on the other side of that coin, if he were to lose to Miocic, that would crack open the door more perhaps for the GOAT cases of Georges St-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Demetrious Johnson and Anderson Silva.
It would also be the first legitimate loss of Jones’s career, which would be very significant.
What are the thoughts on the opening betting lines?
Parker: Currently, Jones sits anywhere between -330 and -360, and those odds make total sense. Jones returned and ran through Cyril Gane, while Miocic has been inactive since 2021, when he dropped the belt to Ngannou.
Miocic will be a more formidable opponent than Gane due to his wrestling background and being a technical boxer. However, a finish from Jones is still a likely outcome. With the odds being -330/-360, I would look to Jones as the anchor to any parlay you may have. Once additional lines come out, I would watch over 1.5 rounds and Jones to win inside the distance. As good as Stipe has been, Jones will wear him down and eventually get the finish.