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Stipe Miocic has opponents in mind for his UFC return ... but can he get them?

UFC’s best Heavyweight champion ever is sitting on the sidelines, and the only fights that could entice him to return aren’t exactly easy to make.

UFC 260: Miocic v Ngannou 2 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Stipe Miocic hasn’t exactly been missing, but he hasn’t been around much, either.

The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion is just chilling in Cleveland, Ohio, with his new baby and pumping out podcasts — he’s up to episode 41 as of this post with the newest episode dedicated to Taylor Swift. So check that out if you’re interested in knowing his thoughts on that.

His thoughts on his future in UFC? Less clear.

After his loss to Francis Ngannou in March 2021, Miocic decided to take off the rest of the year and largely disappeared from the headlines, other than to pop up in the background when Jake Paul fought Tyron Woodley in Ohio. Now, Miocic is back on The MMA Hour with a short list of opponents: the winner of Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane or Jon Jones.

“I’m down, yeah,” Stipe said when asked about fighting a heavyweight Jones. “I think [Jones] wanted it or something, I don’t know the whole story but yeah, I’m down. He wants a title shot, I know he’s one of the greatest of all time, but you’ve gotta wait your order. It’d be like me going to light heavyweight and saying ‘Well I want a shot’ and skipping over him. He’d be pissed, too.”

But, other than that?

“I really want that trilogy fight, that was mine and I want it back.”

“Trilogy’ was the word of the day as Miocic laid out a perfect 2022 for him: “I’d definitely get a trilogy, get my shot back at a title, get my belt back. Back to normal. Everything’s back to normal.”

Which seemed to discount the possibility of Ciryl Gane beating Francis Ngannou when they fight in Jan. 2022. When directly asked Miocic sounded undecided on who might win.

“I don’t know — it’s a big fight,” he said. “[Ngannou] has power so it only takes one punch from him. And Ciryl, he brings it and knows how to fight.”

As for a timetable for a return, Miocic revealed he’d be heading down to Las Vegas, Nevada, to meet with UFC brass next month to plot out a course for the next year. We don’t know how much can come of that meeting given everything depends on who wins Ngannou vs. Gane at UFC 270.

Ngannou is on the last fight of his contract and clearly headed toward a contractual dispute with the promotion, which could gum up the division pretty badly. And Jones was already benched for daring to ask for more money before he got himself arrested for domestic battery, so does anyone see that resolving itself in the first half of 2022?

Miocic better cross his fingers and hope for a Gane victory.