Will Jon Jones return to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for a big money “super” fight against new Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou? No one knows for sure at this moment, what with Jones very visibly fighting with UFC brass over payment terms for a fight of this size.
Past the will it / won’t it question, there’s also the question of whether Jones would be able to beat this new, scarier, more patient “Predator.” One man who’s unsurprisingly in Jones’ corner is his coach Mike Winkeljohn, who spoke with Submission Radio regarding the fight recently.
“I expect Jon Jones to just take the plate and hit a homerun,” Winkeljohn said. “There’s no doubt about it. You know what, it’s about Jon imposing his will and fighting where he wants. And where he doesn’t want to, he won’t be there in the fight. So, it’s all about Jon Jones’ mentality and how smart he is. He’s got the experience on Francis, there’s no doubt about that. And Jon’s a big guy now, people would be surprised. He’s been hammering the weights, lifting. His power doubles, he can launch people over his head like crazy. He’s just so strong everywhere. And he hasn’t lost any speed. I think people are gonna have a great new look at the better Jon Jones in the future.”
Jones recently promised “something different” fight-style wise, and when it comes to fighting Ngannou, the obvious style would be to wrestle him down and wreck him off his back. Without giving away too much strategy-wise, Winkeljohn confirmed they were making sure Jones would have the superior wresting and cardio.
“Francis can explode out of anything, but it’s also the conditioning aspect,” he said. “People don’t understand that Jon’s cardio has always been better than his opponents, and that’s what he brings to the table. And you can scramble so many times, and at that point in time, now your cardio starts taking over. And the strongest man in the world is very, very weak if they don’t have any cardio.”
But back to the pay problem: UFC just isn’t in the business of showing its fighters the money like the boxing world does. “Deontay Wilder money” is how Dana White described Jones’ demands in the past, and Wilder made a guaranteed $5 million purse plus an estimated $25 million off 800,000 PPV sales. While it’s unclear whether Jones really does want around $30 million for a fight with Ngannou that would easily eclipse one million buys, he flat out rejected the idea of doing the fight for $8 to $10 million.
And now here’s his coach saying it’s more of a $50 million thing:
“Gosh, I look at the big fights ... I think this fight can be easily as [big as] some of the big Mayweather fights out there,” Winkeljohn said. “What did Floyd Mayweather make? A hundred million? I don’t know. You know, that type of thing. He was kind of his own promoter. So, Jon’s gotta share that with the UFC as far as on pay-per-view buys. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a fifty-million-dollar fight. And the UFC still makes bank, and is able to pay off a lot of the debt they have and go forward. I think the UFC needs a superstar like Jon Jones. I think Conor was the guy for a while, and he’s fallen off. But those big names is what makes the UFC money, ultimately.”
Hey, for what it’s worth (literally), two million PPVs at $70 a pop is $140 million, so Winkeljohn isn’t wrong ... if you think the fight is a two million seller. We think it might be, and with that much money on the table, it maybe hard for UFC to hold out even if it does have to add a zero to Jones’ usual pay.
Jones seems to think UFC will come around on the fight once Ngannou takes out a title challenger or two, and his man Mike made similar allusions to it only becoming bigger the longer UFC waits to pull the trigger.
“I think the reason why it didn’t come through before was that it was not as big,” he said. “The time is now. It’s coming. If it’s not this time, if Francis wins again, it’s the next one after that. It’s what the fans wanna see. They wanna see that superfight. They want the Ali-Fraziers all over again. They want the Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns fight all over again. That’s what people want. People want the gigantic fights. And everybody will show up to see it. The pay-per-view numbers will be off the charts. It’ll be something for everybody to remember forever.”
As for Jones’ request for UFC to just cut him already if it doesn’t want to work with him — was that an emotional moment or calculated demand?
“He would never leave the UFC if he didn’t’ have a plan,” Winkeljohn opined. “Like I said, Jon’s a master behind the scenes. People don’t understand. He’s hung out with Greg Jackson for a long time. And talking about understanding strategy, those two guys, they get pretty deep with what they’re doing. So, there’s always fakes and feints out there, and playing one thing. The art of war has been read many times by both of them.”