Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, recently revealed that Jon Jones would not be making his much-anticipated return to action at UFC 282 this December, pushing his Heavyweight debut back once again.
While the talk around the water cooler was a potential scrap between Jones and Stipe Miocic, the match that fight fans really have been craving is “Bones” fighting for the title against division kingpin, Francis Ngannou.
According to Eric Nicksick, Ngannou’s head coach, not only do he and “The Predator” want the fight, but a top (and unnamed) UFC executive is also feeling the idea.
“A UFC exec called and basically said, ‘Hey, what is your ideal timeline, and what is your ideal match up?’” Nicksick told MMA Junkie Radio. “Does it matter what my opinion is? No, but it is nice that they called and asked. I said ideally I would want March, and ideally I would want Jon Jones.
“The person that called agreed 1 million percent that this is what [UFC] would like, as well,” he continued. “That is what Francis would like. They’re calling to figure out timeline on injury and how long I would need to get him ready.”
According to Nicksick, fighting Jones first in the 265-pound division would be highly beneficial to Ngannou because the former dominant Light Heavyweight roost-ruler would be forced to adjust against the best big man on the planet.
“I don’t want Jon Jones to be able to take a fight before us,” Nicksick said. “I want him to have to figure everything out in the cage with Francis, not go fight Stipe and maybe win a decision and then go back to the drawing board and go, ‘OK, here’s the things I need to fix and get better at’ and then come out a better version.
“Where Jon Jones is so good is that he gets those reps,” he continued. “He understands, ‘Okay, I can fix this, I could fix that.’ He’s not actually a guy who’s gonna walk around at Heavyweight. He’s building himself up to fight at Heavyweight. He’s adding muscle to a frame that naturally isn’t a Heavyweight frame. So, that muscle is gonna command a certain amount of Oxygen and cardio.”
Jones hasn’t competed since Feb. 2020, defeating Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 to earn his eleventh title defense. As for Ngannou, he has been on the sidelines for the majority of this year as a result of knee surgery. The 265-pound champion last competed at UFC 270, defeating Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision to earn his sixth straight win.
Jones and Ngannou have been eyeing each other for some time now, but high fight purse demands initially derailed those plans. But, perhaps the new round of negotiations go much smoother and fight fans — as well as Jones and Ngannou — finally get what they want.