Heavyweight contender named as potential replacement for Francis Ngannou if 'The Predator' vs. Jon Jones falls through at UFC 285

Francis Ngannou (left) and Jon Jones (right). [via Getty Images]
Francis Ngannou (left) and Jon Jones (right) [Getty Images]

The UFC plans to pit its heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou against Jon Jones on his heavyweight debut. However, according to MMA Junkie, heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes could be an alternative opponent for Ngannou.

The UFC intends to have Ngannou defend his heavyweight belt against Jones at UFC 285 on March 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jones has not fought since his last title defense against Dominick Reyes at light heavyweight in February 2020.

He has since vacated the championship but has continued to train in his absence from the octagon.

Recent media uploads by 'Bones' to his social media handles suggest a significant weight gain, with the former light heavyweight champion confirming his intention to move up to the heaviest weight class. His aim to challenge for the title has been hampered by Ngannou's injury sustained during his preparations to fight Ciryl Gane.

Furthermore, unlike Jones' pay dispute, Ngannou's contract complaints have not yet been resolved. This is where No.3-ranked heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes comes in, as he can also replace the champion. Notably, Blaydes has been TKO'd on two previous occasions in 2016 and 2018 by the reigning UFC heavyweight champ.

Blaydes is on a three-fight winning streak since his main event loss to Derrick Lewis in 2021. 'Razor' has only lost twice in his last 15 fights and will be a challenging opponent for heavyweight debutante Jon Jones.

Jon Jones takes shots at Dominick Reyes after his loss against Ryan Spann

Jon Jones reacted to his last opponent Dominick Reyes' latest fight against Ryan Spann at UFC 281.

Reyes lost to Spann in the very first round after a brutal knockout within 80 seconds. 'Bones' used a phrase from Reyes' press conference that was directed at him to call his former opponent out on his loss:

"Get on the sidelines permanently or get in the game."

Check out his tweet below:

'Get on the sidelines permanently or get in the game'

Reyes has suffered three knockout losses in as many fights since the Jones clash. Jones' decision victory over Reyes at UGC 247 has been criticized for being a robbery and may have potentially demoralized 'The Devastator'.

'Bones' dismissed the notion that he robbed Reyes of his confidence, and countered that it could be a mentality issue:

"I didn’t take his confidence, in his mind he beat me. Maybe that’s his problem."

Check out his tweet below:

I didn’t take his confidence, in his mind he beat me. Maybe that’s his problem.…

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Edited by Virat Deswal
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