Before we get into the crux of what you all showed up for (news), we want to re-introduce you to the “Insider’s Scoop.”
Every once in and while, our reporters, when enough noteworthy developments have piled up, will release news in an easy-to-digest roundup for the MMA Junkie audience.
From fight rumblings to event locations and dates to roster departures and more, various tidbits will be featured each time “Insider’s Scoop” is released.
So without further ado, here’s the latest edition of “Insider’s Scoop.”
Where’s Jon Jones?
Believe it or not, Jon Jones is ready to go. He’s been ready.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion seems to be on good terms with the promotion and its proposed terms. So what’s the issue? Well, the struggles to find an opponent are real.
The UFC wanted Stipe Miocic vs. Jones and tried for multiple dates, as was rumored. Negotiations with Miocic have not resulted in anything substantial, unfortunately. That matchup is essentially gone by the wayside, barring revival from the dead.
With the injury timeline for Francis Ngannou still up in the air, it’s unclear who Jones will fight. However, the UFC can’t just sit around forever without offering Jones a fight. As of very recently, the penciled plan is to have him fight March 5 at UFC 285 in Las Vegas.
Per sources close to the situation, if Ngannou is ready, that’ll be the fight the UFC wants. If not, the UFC will have to go to Plan C, Jones vs. someone else. I’m told the UFC also has a matchup against Curtis Blaydes as a prospective safety net should Ngannou not be ready. The UFC also has Ciryl Gane in consideration for a similar planning position as Blaydes, though there are concerns about his return timeline from injury.
The UFC’s plans and executing those plans are two different things, remember. Getting a deal done with Ngannou is still a hurdle the promotion would need to overcome.
One of the world’s best strawweights hasn’t even competed in over three years, but that’s on the verge of changing. Tatiana Suarez is on the come back trail and targets a 2023 Q1 return to competition, sources tell MMA Junkie. Undefeated as a professional, Suarez has competed only once since September 2018 due to injuries, but is widely regarded as a likely future title challenger.
UFC in the U.K.
As has been alluded to, the UFC will strike while the iron is hot. For the third time in approximately a year’s time, the UFC will head back to the UK. It sounds like March 18 is the date, with multiple fighters receiving verbal and written offers from the UFC in recent weeks. UFC flyweight Muhammad Mokaev previously alluded to this date. That would be UFC 286, with UFC 285 expected for Las Vegas on March 4.