Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Ngannou: Gane Unification Bout Isn’t On The Same Level As A Jones Fight

UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou doesn’t hold the same excitement towards his upcoming fight with Ciryl Gane as he would have for a clash with Jon Jones.

Ngannou hasn’t fought since his championship crowning in March. In the UFC 260 main event, he entered the Octagon with Stipe Miocic for the second time. Having previously come up short against the former champ in 2018, “The Predator” was given a second crack at gold after going on a tear in the division. In four fights, Ngannou secured four first-round knockouts, leaving the bodies of Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in his wake.

After displaying his improved takedown defense and evasive wrestling in the opening round, Ngannou brutally KO’d Miocic in the second frame to become the UFC’s third active African champ.

Despite being prepared to defend his belt for the first time last month, the UFC’s desire to have Derrick Lewis headline Houston’s UFC 265 card saw them create an interim title. Opposite “The Black Beast” in August was Gane. “Bon Gamin” dominated and recorded his third main event win of 2021. In doing so, he set up a blockbuster unification bout for UFC 270.

Despite most being intrigued to see whether Gane’s technical style can solve the Ngannou power puzzle, many are still disappointed not to see the champ’s first defense come against former light heavyweight king Jon Jones. That includes “The Predator” himself.

Ngannou recently made an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour. When asked if he has the same excitement for his clash with the Frenchman as he would have if he was facing “Bones,” Ngannou suggested the matchups aren’t on the same level.

“Not particularly,” Ngannou said. “But it’s a good fight. You have to be aware of the danger of any fight, so it’s a fight, he’s a good opponent, but not on the level of a Jon Jones fight for example if that’s what you’re asking. It’s not the same thing.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

With Ngannou’s title victory and Jones’ quest to move up to heavyweight, most believed a matchup between the pair was the biggest fight the UFC could make, and was one they had to. However, after failed negotiations and the promotion’s refusal to match Jones’ demands, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion’s divisional debut was pushed back to 2022.

During an interview at the UFC Hall of Fame ceremony last month, where Jones was inducted into the Fight Wing for his 2013 clash with Alexander Gustafsson, the 34-year-old revealed he was targeting his first heavyweight appearance for the second quarter of 2022. However, the former champ was arrested in Las Vegas for battery domestic violence just hours later, and it remains to be seen if his UFC status will be affected.

Are you less excited for Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane than you would be if Jon Jones was challenging for the Cameroonian’s gold?