We are just about a week removed from UFC 270, but it’s time to take a look at what could be coming next. Last weekend, Francis Ngannou (17-3) defended his heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane (10-1).
The fight was the last one on Ngannou’s current UFC contract. Ngannou also went into the fight with a torn MCL and a damaged ACL. The champion is known for his knockout power, but had to use his wrestling to pull out a decision win.
It’s been revealed this week that Ngannou will require surgery which will keep him out of action until the end of the year. His contract’s championship clause also expires at the end of the year. With that in mind, we might have seen the last of Francis Ngannou in the UFC.
Now, despite the public back-and-forth, I think a deal will ultimately get done. However, with contract negotiations up in the air and Ngannou out until the end of the year regardless, I think the UFC is going to push forward with another interim title.
Another interim UFC heavyweight champion?
It seems incredibly redundant since Ciryl Gane was just the interim champion and lost to Ngannou. The UFC made an interim title just three months after Ngannou won the title in 2021 and Ngannou had no contract issues or injuries at the time.
Throw those two factors in and I see a recipe for another interim championship. However, this potential interim title would have a lot more merit in my opinion. I think the UFC is going to look at booking Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) against Stipe Miocic (20-4).
The fight sells itself as the greatest of all time moving up to heavyweight to take on the greatest heavyweight of all time. You could make this the headlining fight at International Fight Week in July with the winner setup to fight Francis Ngannou potentially at the end of the year or early 2023.
Jones has been told he’s going to get a UFC title shot when he debuts at heavyweight. Stipe Miocic’s resume speaks for itself and he deserves another crack at UFC gold. Whoever wins would setup a massive fight with Ngannou.
Either we would get the trilogy involving Stipe or the Jon Jones fight we’ve always wanted. If Jones moves up and beats Stipe, the Ngannou fight becomes even bigger. If I’m the UFC, this is definitely the direction I would go.