Dana White announces Francis Ngannou has been released, Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane will fight for vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285

By Cole Shelton - January 14, 2023

Francis Ngannou has been released from the UFC.

Francis Ngannou

Following UFC Vegas 67 on Saturday, Dana White spoke to the media and confirmed the reports that Jon Jones will face Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title. Along with that, he announced Ngannou has been released from the UFC as ‘The Predator’ turned down a new contract.

“We offered Ngannou a deal that would make him the highest-paid heavyweight of all time. He turned it down. We’re gonna release him from his contract. He can go and do whatever he wants,” White said at the post-fight press conference.

Not only is Ngannou stripped and released, but White says they waived the exclusive negotiating window and no matching rights clause. Meaning, Ngannou is truly a free agent and can sign with whatever promotion he wants, as soon as possible.

With Ngannou being released, the UFC’s vacant heavyweight title will be up for grabs in the main event of UFC 285 on March 4 as Jon Jones takes on Ciryl Gane. According to Dana White, Jones has been ready to fight since October.

“Jon Jones is literally ready to fight anybody. He didn’t care who it was. We could have done a fight with Jones in October, November, December. But we wanted this fight with Francis,” White added.

Francis Ngannou (17-3), meanwhile, enters free agency having never lost the UFC’s heavyweight title. He last fought back at UFC 270 in January of 2021 when he beat Gane by decision to defend his belt for the first time. He won the belt by knocking out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March of 2021.

As of right now, there is no word on who Ngannou will sign with. However, he has talked about wanting to go into boxing for years. Now that he is no longer with the UFC, perhaps Ngannou steps into the squared circle. But, there is no question Ngannou is arguably the biggest free agent in MMA history.

Where do you think Francis Ngannou will sign with?