Jon Jones is set to make a dramatic return to the cage this weekend when he will face Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title – after Francis Ngannou vacated the belt.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion hasn’t stepped inside the Octagon in three years – when he defeated Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020.
‘Bones’ has since stepped away from the sport for a while, as he admitted he lacked motivation when facing lesser opponents.
‘I wanted to be afraid again. I think fear is healthy and now we’re in that position. The heavyweight division has never been so scary, and I’m happy to be right in the middle of it,” Jones told Unlocking the Cage.
As for Gane, the Frenchman will seek the heavyweight title for the first time in his career. He suffered the first defeat of his professional career when he fought Francis Ngannou in his only shot at the undisputed UFC title. In his last fight, ‘Bon Gamin’ defeated Tai Tuivasa in Paris by KO in the third round.
Jon Jones will return to the cage for the first time in three years when he faces Cyryl Gane
Ciryl Gane, the Frenchman defeated Tai Tuivasa in his last fight, in September
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko defended her flyweight belt for the eighth time against Alexa Grasso.
sports mail details everything you need to know, including how to watch it in the UK, who’s fighting and when UFC 285 is.
When is UFC 285?
UFC 285 will take place on Saturday, March 4, with prelims starting at 11pm UK time.
Jones’ showdown with Gane is scheduled to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada.
Qualifiers are scheduled to take place at 1:00 am on Sunday, March 5th, while the main card is set to begin at 3:00 am.
The main event between Jones and Gane won’t start in the UK until around 5:30am on Sunday.
How to watch Jon Jones vs Cyryl Gane
UFC 285 will be broadcast live on BT Sport in the UK and will also be streamed live via the broadcaster’s app.
Coverage for this weekend’s PPV matchup will begin at 1am on Sunday, March 5th.
Sportsmail will also cover the event live, so you can stay up to date with us.
This weekend’s clash between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane will take place at the T-Mobile Arena
Jones vs Gane: the key stats
Height: 6ft 4in
Height: 6ft 5in
Why did Francis Ngannou vacate the title?
After successfully defending the heavyweight title in his last fight in January 2022, Ngannou was involved in a verbal confrontation with the UFC over contractual issues.
The Cameroonian fighter was unhappy with his salary and threatened to leave the promotion to pursue more fight options for a better payday – including a boxing showdown with Tyson Fury.
After failing to close a new deal with the promotion, Ngannou was released from the UFC and would vacate his title.
However, the former heavyweight champion appeared on MMA Hour to give the reasons for his departure.
Francis Ngannou has parted ways with the UFC after failing to reach a new deal with the company
Francis Ngannou’s last UFC fight took place in January 2022 – when he defeated Ciryl Gane
Francis Ngannou admitted that his falling out with the UFC was not entirely over the money following his departure.
“I knew this would happen at some point, but I have no stress, I feel really good about it and I know I did everything right and I have no regrets,” Ngannou said.
‘If I had it to do over again, I would do the same thing. The last time I spoke to them was last Tuesday, they tried one more time and I couldn’t. It was just a matter of principle and at that time I knew this was it.
“They didn’t say on the phone this would happen, but I knew it would. I didn’t do anything wrong. No matter what happens.
‘I really hoped this would work and I wish we could find a way to make this work. I always see myself in the UFC, I never imagined myself outside the UFC. I was willing to give in over and over again, but I got to the point where I just said, ‘Guys, give me a break.
“I think money was part of it, but it wasn’t all about the money. They don’t talk about what the negotiation was about. They just talk about the money to make the biggest heavyweight contract in history, they control the narrative, but I wish it worked. It was a three-fight deal, I asked for all three, but without overtime. One was Jon Jones, Stipe, then a rematch with Jon Jones.’
full fight card
- Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane – vacant heavyweight title
- Valentina Shevchenko vs Alexa Grasso – Women’s Flyweight Title
- Geoff Neal vs Shavkat Rakhmonov
- Mateusz Gamrot vs Jalin Turner
- Bo Nickal x Jamie Pickett
- Cody Garbrandt vs Trevin Jones
- Derek Brunson vs Dricus Du Plessis
- Viviane Araujo vs Amanda Ribas
- Julian Marquez vs Marc-Andre Barriault
Early Preliminary Card
- Ian Machado Garry vs Song Kenan
- Mana Martinez vs Cameron Saaiman
- Jessica Penne vs Tabatha Ricci
- Da’Mon Blackshear vs Farid Basharat
- Esteban Ribovics vs Loik Radzhabov
Jon Jones has a chance to become a two division champion this weekend against Gane
What was said?
Heading into the mouth-watering heavyweight showdown, Jones explained how frustrated he has been the last three years due to lack of activity – but is excited for the ‘challenge’.
‘I know how to win fights. That’s why I’m here,’ Jones said.
‘I don’t think about losing. I never lost. I don’t think about losing. My mind is fully focused on winning.
“I’ve been ready for a while. I trained to fight Francis (Ngannou), I trained to fight Stipe (Miocic), and now Ciryl Gane is the guy I’m fighting.
‘It’s been a long time. That’s three years of training twice a day with no reward. This was frustrating at times.
‘But I stayed true to my goals and dreams, and I’m here. I achieved. I’m excited and I’m here for the challenge.
And Jon Jones says he’s up for the challenge when he takes on Cyryl Gane this weekend.
‘I respect that Cyryl took that fight. I like what it represents. He behaves like a gentleman.
‘I know he has a lot to gain and not a lot to lose, but this is a big step up in the competition for him, in my opinion.
‘This is the fight to watch. That’s how MMA is going.
‘Two skinny heavyweights who could have played football or basketball. There will be two elite athletes.