Is the UFC ready to move on from their heavyweight champion in Francis Ngannou? Perhaps as an indicator of how their long and shaky contract negotiations are going, the UFC reportedly is now set on the idea of booking an interim title bout soon.
The promotion already has a match up in mind, as according to MMA Junkie, Stipe Miocic has been offered an interim heavyweight championship bout against Jon Jones for UFC 276. Nothing is final, and a lot of things will still have to fall into place to make that happen, as Miocic and especially Jones have also had issues and contract impasses with the UFC.
Dana White also recently spoke to TMZ about the potential match up.
“I was just telling somebody the other day, our lineup for this summer is incredible,” White said. “So I’m hoping Jon Jones is going to be part of that lineup this summer. … Stipe makes sense.”
Jones has teased a heavyweight debut for a decade now, but it has yet to actually materialize. One of the main sticking points in his last failed negotiations with the UFC, is him wanting a bigger purse to finally move up in weight.
As for Ngannou’s own rocky negotiations, the champion has openly stated that he wants to test free agency as he’s had a lot of issues with the UFC in the last few years. The disgruntled heavyweight champ is currently recovering from knee surgery, but he also did fight just three months ago in January. Considering how he took the previous — and also unusually quick — installation of an interim title as disrespect, it’s hard to imagine Ngannou being happy about this idea either.
UFC 276 happens on July 2, in Las Vegas.