The polished Jon Jones was back after his quick conquest of the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 285. He expressed gratitude for his accomplishment in beating Ciryl Gane, thanked his team, and compared himself to a lion with the heart to overcome adversity.
Then the other Jones – one perhaps best captured by his “hot mic” exchange in 2015 with former rival Daniel Cormier – made a brief appearance. Responding to a tweet from former UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou, Jones threw all sense of decorum out the window with a profane insult.
“Francis is a big ol’ p****,” Jones said.
The back of the room at T-Mobile Arena howled with glee as Jones shook his head. Jones briefly paused to listen for the next question.
” I love that quote,” Jones said, with a chuckle. It’s a great quote. It’s all that muscle with big ass p ****. Excuse me. .”
I am so sorry.
Moments after Jones had submitted Gane within three minutes of Saturday’s headliner pay-per view, Ngannou laughed at the win.
Good job Jonny Boy
The heavyweight king
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) March 5, 2023
Ngannou held onto the belt for less than 2 months before the UFC declared Jones would be fighting Gane. He was stripped of the belt when he chose not to re-sign with the promotion after becoming a free agent, and despite his openness to returning later under better contractual conditions, UFC President Dana White said before UFC 285 that he would never fight in the octagon again.
White reiterated his position at the UFC 285 press conference, throwing cold water on the idea of a fight between the former and current champions, whose potential megafight led to a contract dispute between Jones and the UFC that resulted in “Bones” relinquishing the light heavyweight title in 2020.
Jones spent over two years in the UFC, bulking up to move into the heavyweight division. Ngannou was unable to negotiate with UFC, so Jones left his former managers and hired a new one. This resulted Jones becoming the most highly-paid heavyweight fighter on the roster.
Jones, back in UFC fold, echoed White’s assertion that Ngannou left the promotion to avoid the most difficult challenges. When his post-fight interview came, Jones used it not to dunk on Ngannou but call for a fight with ex-champ Stipe Miocic, whom he was scheduled to face at UFC 218 at heavyweight before a UFC 214 drug positive led to Jones being stripped of the light heavyweight title for the third time in his career.
Prior to UFC 285, Miocic said he had been enlisted to face Jones at UFC 285 but said the promotion went a different direction. Asked whether Miocic would be Jones’ first defense at heavyweight, White was noncommittal about booking the fight.