The fight everyone is talking about following UFC 260 is new heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou taking on Jon Jones. Unfortunately, just as quickly as the fight seemed inevitable, it then fell to its possible death bed when Jon Jones asked for his release from the UFC due to frustrations of his treatment by the UFC and also potentially in response to a lowball offer from the promotion.
Dana White doesn’t understand what the hold-up is. If Jon Jones really wanted the fight, he wouldn’t be on Twitter, the president argues. He would just sign up like other heavyweights such as Derrick Lewis would do. The implication that Jones is afraid to fight Francis Ngannou set off the worst in Jones’s temper, but his coach Mike Winkeljohn is taking it all in stride and thinks it all comes with the territory of superfight negotiations.
“That’s to be expected,” Winkeljohn said of Dana White’s comments in an appearance on Submission Radio. “Dana is the best in the world at what he does. There’s no doubt about that and for a reason. Jon’s the best in the world (at) what he does and for a reason. So of course, they each want their own. It’s to be expected. That’s the game.
“There’s the fight game, where he’s got to fight Francis. But at the same time, he’s got that game with the UFC. They’ve got to decide how much they want to sell that many pay-per-views and how much Jon Jones is worth to them to sell that many pay-per-views. And Jon’s got to decide where’s that point where I’m motivated to take that risk to continue with my legacy of being the best ever to play the game.”
Winkeljohn believes that this is a game where everyone can win, as Jones has alluded in some of his tweets on the subject. Jones has been a big pay-per-view draw over the years, certainly placing in the top 5 of all time in terms of total PPV buys and he has consistently cracked over half a million buys, something only a few fighters can claim. That said, he has not reached the rare tier of a Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, and Brock Lesnar who are almost a lock to be at or near 1 million buys a pop. That could change with a fight as massive as one against Francis Ngannou.
Winkeljohn Sets High Estimate for Ngannou vs. Jones Superfight
As big as Jon Jones’s fights with Daniel Cormier were, the appeal of a Jones heavyweight debut against the newly minted baddest man on the planet who is being compared to the likes of “Iron” Mike Tyson could certainly crack a million buys or more, especially with the right level of promotion from UFC partner ESPN. All things considered, when Winkeljohn looks at some of the massive paychecks some boxing stars receive for big money fights, he believes that half of $100 million is not an unreasonable ask.
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a $50-million fight,” Winkeljohn asserted. “…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.”
Winkeljohn also argued that the UFC has the money to invest this much in a Ngannou vs. Jones fight and that the payout could erase a lot of debts while making the promotion a ton of profit. It should be noted that Winkeljohn did not in any way state or imply that his $50-million estimate is indicative of what Jon Jones has requested or is expecting, but it is a number that he personally believes is warranted for a fight of this caliber.
What are your thoughts on Mike Winkeljohn’s $50-million estimate for Jones/Ngannou? Do you think the Price is Right?