UFC boss Dana White “wouldn’t have a problem” with Jon Jones challenging for the heavyweight title – but only after Francis Ngannou.
Jones, 33, confirmed he would be vacating his light-heavyweight belt to move up a division.
The American legend announced the plans after his rival Daniel Cormier, 41, retired following defeat to Stipe Miocic, 37.
White has backed Jones in his bid to become a two-weight champion, but warned Ngannou, 33, is next in line for the title shot.
He said: “(Jones) is the longtime light heavyweight champion. In my opinion, he is the greatest of all time.
“If he wants to come back and take a shot at the heavyweight championship, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.
“But he can’t jump in front of Francis Ngannou right now.”
Heavy-hitter Ngannou – who was beaten by Miocic in 2018 – has won his last four fights, all in round one, to put himself as the No1 contender.
Jones himself had been linked with a fight against the Cameroonian, but was forced to deny claims he wanted £25million to do so.
He then threatened to walk out on the promotion, after rowing over his pay.
The UFC legend was adamant he would not fight until his row with the promotion was resolved, though it appears Miocic’s win inspired a change of heart.
White said: “Obviously, you can see he’s been tweeting. He has an interest in fighting at heavyweight. He doesn’t know when. He doesn’t know who.
“I think he’s going to just take some time right now and do some of the things he wants to do outside of the octagon.
When the time is right, he’ll step in and possibly fight at heavyweight.”