Jon Jones finds himself in unfamiliar territory: as an underdog heading into a fight.
Jones, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, will make his much-anticipated heavyweight debut March 4 at UFC 285 in Las Vegas, where he will face Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title. The belt became vacant after reigning champ Francis Ngannou was released following a more than year-long contract dispute with the UFC.
Jones, 35, will enter UFC 285 as a slight underdog at +100, with Gane, 32, coming back as a -120 favorite, according to BestFightOdds.com. This means a $100 bet on Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) would yield winnings of $100, whereas a $120 wager on Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) would earn bettors $100.
This marks just the third time in 23 UFC appearances that Jones has opened as a betting underdog and the first time in almost 14 years. The only other times Jones opened as a betting underdog were his first two UFC fights, most recently when he faced Stephan Bonnar at +140. Jones went on to defeat Bonnar by unanimous decision on Jan. 31, 2009 at UFC 94.
Ciryl Gane: Jon Jones doesn’t have ‘a good way to win against me’ at UFC 285
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Jones, considered by many to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time, will enter UFC 285 with question marks having not competed since February 2020, when he edged out a controversial decision over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. It marked his 13th career title fight win at 205 pounds.
Gane, a former UFC interim heavyweight champion, is coming off a third-round knockout of Tai Tuivasa last September at UFC Fight Night 209. The victory was a rebound from his lone career setback, a unanimous decision loss to Ngannou in a title-unification bout last January at UFC 270.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 285.
Twitter reacts to Francis Ngannou’s UFC release, Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane title fight
Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie