Reigning UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is scheduled to have knee surgery to repair damage sustained in front of his UFC 270 title defense against 265-pound bruiser Ciryl Gane, so there’s a very real chance “The Predator” will be sidelined until the end of the year, or perhaps longer depending on his rehab.
That’s why former champ Daniel Cormier expects to see another interim title.
“I think we’ll see another interim title,” Cormier said on his ESPN show DC & RC. “For me, what makes sense for that interim title is Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones. I think you put those two together and then no matter who wins, when Francis comes back, you have a massive fight waiting for you. With Miocic, I think it’s time to give him some respect. If there’s going to be an interim title, they can’t not do it with Miocic.”
Miocic (20-4) has not competed since losing his 265-pound title to Ngannou in their UFC 260 rematch back in March 2021. As for Jones (26-1, 1 NC), he’s been sidelined since late 2020 after relinquishing his light heavyweight title but is expected to make his long-awaited heavyweight debut at some point over the next few months.
“The reality is this, though: If Jon Jones fights at heavyweight, you want a belt on the line,” Cormier continued. “You don’t want him just fighting. I used to think that, ‘Oh, put him against Curtis Blaydes or somebody else.’ No, you put him in a fight where if he wins, the end visual is the belt getting strapped on him, even if it’s an interim title because then it just elevates the next fight. So I think Stipe-Jones is the fight to make, and I can see a world where Ciryl Gane fights against Curtis Blaydes. The heavyweight division is interesting right now, and the champion being away doesn’t really hurt it all that much.”
If it makes dollars then it makes sense.