Francis Ngannou released; Jon Jones, Ciryl Gane to clash for heavyweight title at UFC 285
Francis Ngannou was released from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), president Dana White confirmed during UFC Vegas 67’s post-fight press conference on Sunday.
Francis Ngannou was released from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), president Dana White confirmed during UFC Vegas 67’s post-fight press conference on Sunday. White also confirmed that UFC had offered Francis a lucrative offer, which would have made him the highest paid fighter in the promotion, however, the French MMA fighter declined to pen a new contract, making the undisputed heavyweight champion a free agent.
“We are going to release (Francis Ngannou) from his contract. We are giving up the right to match. He can go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants,” said White.
“We offered Ngannou a deal that would make him the highest paid heavyweight of all time. He turned it down,” added White.
Ngannou had grabbed the heavyweight title after securing a knockout win over Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in 2021. The French had defended his title just one time, which was against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, following which he injured his knee.
With Ngannou released the heavyweight division in UFC remains vacant and White confirmed that Jon Jones and Gane will lock horns for the title at UFC 285 in March at Las Vegas.
It will be interesting to see where Ngannou moves next, considering he is among the most reputed free agents to enter the open market in MMA history.
Meanwhile, Jones is a two-time UFC light heavyweight champion, and has defended the title 11 times from 2011-20, which saw him defeat some of biggest names including Daniel Cormier, Glover Teixeira, Maurício Rua, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, and more.
Gane, on the other hand, has won eight of his nine UFC appearances. His only loss was against the former heavyweight champion Ngannou, which was his first challenge for the UFC title.