Former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic says the promotion has told him he will fight the winner of Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane this summer.
The two-time champion, considered by many as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history, has not fought since losing the belt to Francis Ngannou in March 2021.
However, Miocic said on Friday that he has been guaranteed the winner of Sunday’s headline bout at UFC 285, which pits against one another the returning Jones and former interim champion Gane.
Jones, the former long-time champion at light heavyweight, is competing for the first time in more than three years – and makes his debut at heavyweight.
In an interview with former rival Daniel Cormier, Miocic said the UFC told him he will be back in the octagon in July, in another bout for the title.
“They said International Fight Week [July 3-9],” the American said. “That’s what I was told.”
Speaking at a later press conference in Las Vegas to preview Sunday’s event, Miocic reiterated: “I was told that, so we’ll see. Hopefully … nothing is permanent until it’s written a contract with a signature, but we’ll see.”
The UFC have yet to confirm any fights for what is expected to be UFC 290 during International Fight Week in Vegas. Miocic, 20-4 in professional MMA (14-4 UFC), had been hoping to provide Jones with his first test at heavyweight before that.
“I was down for the fight; I just think they went in a different direction every time," Miocic said. "Nothing against the UFC, they’re just trying to make the fights, I get it, and unfortunately it just wasn’t my time again.
“There was only one time I just couldn’t fight because physically I wasn’t ready, I had a lot going on. I said, ‘I can’t do it in eight weeks, I can do it in 12.’ They said, ‘No, it’s OK, we’re doing it.’ It just didn’t work out.”
Asked if he would prefer to face Jones in July, Miocic said: “Of course, I would love to cement my legacy even more. But [either Jones or Gane] is a good fight, and whoever it is, I’ll take whoever the winner is and beat [him].”
Now 40, Miocic first became heavyweight champion in May 2016 after a first-round knockout of Fabricio Werdum before going on set the record for most successful defences (3).
He lost his title Cormier in July 2018 but regained it in an immediate rematch the following year. Miocic then defeated Cormier by unanimous decision in August 2020 to win their trilogy.