clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jon Jones: Francis Ngannou should be criticized for not making fight happen — ‘He didn’t believe in himself’

Jon Jones feels Francis Ngannou dropped the ball by not making their fight happen.

UFC 285 is right around the corner on March 4, 2023, and hosts the return of “Bones” Jones as he makes his Heavyweight debut opposite France’s Ciryl Gane for the vacant title. Originally, the expectation was for the former two-time Light Heavyweight kingpin to challenge the now-former Heavyweight titlist, Ngannou. That was before Ngannou’s contract negotiations with the promotion fizzled and led to his departure from the organization.

If Jones beats Gane, he’ll go down in mixed martial arts (MMA) history as one of the few to ever hold titles in two different divisions. Jones’ former rival, Daniel Cormier, managed to make that achievement a reality in Jones’ absence, resulting in criticism as Light Heavyweight champion because he never defeated Jones. Cormier recently expressed how Jones may end up suffering the same fate after a potential win.

LIVE! Watch UFC 286 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 in London England, on Sat., March 18, 2023, with newly-minted Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, running it back with former 170-pound champion, Kamaru Usman, for a third (and likely final) time. In UFC 286’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, all-action Lightweight knockout artists, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, will lock horns with the winner inching closer to a future Lightweight title shot.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“I don’t think I deserve any criticism,” Jones told RMC Sport. “I’m here. Francis had the opportunity to face me and he opted out of the opportunity. If anyone should be criticized, it’s Francis Ngannou.

“If I’m correct, he was offered the biggest contract in Heavyweight history,” he concluded. “He had the opportunity to be a guy that dethroned me and he didn’t believe in himself. He wasn’t willing to gamble on himself.”

Ngannou is targeting a return to action in 2023 most likely as a boxer before getting back in the cage. Despite how things ended between UFC and “The Predator,” Jones still feels the two could collide down the road.

Before any idea of Jones versus Ngannou can even be considered, Jones needs to get through Gane next weekend and he has full confidence he’ll do so in an emphatic fashion.

“I do believe that I’ll finish the fight, yes,” Jones said. “Gane’s best way of lasting five rounds with me is to try to keep the fight on the feet. I don’t believe he’ll be able to do that. Outside of that, I don’t think he’s better than me at anything.

“I feel like I have great boxing right now. Better than it used to be,” he continued. “I have great kickboxing, great defense, great wrestling, and jiu-jitsu. I feel like I’m just a better martial artist than him. I take this sport very serious and I think that will show when we’re in front of each other.”

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 285 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 285: “Jones vs. Gane” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania