(Reuters) – Jon Jones will face France’s Cyril Gane for the UFC heavyweight title at the T-Mobile Arena on March 8 after champion Francis Ngannou vacated the belt to enter free agency, UFC president Dana White told a news conference.
Speaking after an event at the UFC’s Apex venue, White said on Saturday that despite two years of negotiations with the 36-year-old Ngannou an agreement could not be reached and that the heavyweight was leaving the company.
“We offered Francis a deal that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the history of the company, more than (former champion Brock) Lesnar, more than anybody, and he turned the deal down,” White said.
His replacement as champion will be crowned when American Jones, a former light heavyweight champion who has previously been banned for doping, meets Gane, who held the interim heavyweight championship until he was beaten by Ngannou for the undisputed title in January 2022.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Hugh Lawson)