Ngannou was widely expected to make his first title defense against Jones earlier this year, but contract negotiations never materialized as Jones remained at odds with the UFC brass. After months of speculation as to who Ngannou would fight next, the UFC opted to make an interim title bout between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis, in which Gane was the victor.
Ngannou will face Gane in a heavyweight title unification bout at UFC 270, but that hasn’t calmed talks of a potential bout with Jones. During a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Ngannou appeared to dismiss Jones’ targeted return for as soon as April.
“Personally I don’t really care about that anymore,” Ngannou said. “There is a lot of talk about Jon Jones. He says a lot of things, yet we are still here. I wasn’t even expecting to fight someone other than Jon Jones after the Stipe (Miocic) fight, but here I am. It’s almost 10 months away, I’m going to fight Ciryl Gane which wasn’t in the picture, in the landscape at that moment at all.”
Jon Jones Could Face The Ciryl Gane/Francis Ngannou Winner
UFC president Dana White has been relatively vague about Jones’ plan to return, stating that he isn’t even thinking about the former light heavyweight champion until 2022. After the long hiatus, Jones could still get an immediate title shot against either Ngannou or Gane.
One caveat in the mix is Jones’ ongoing legal issues stemming from his recent arrest in Las Vegas. He was arrested on battery domestic violence and vehicle tampering charges after allegedly assaulting his fiance at a casino. It’s unclear if this will impact his fighting future.
Ngannou’s latest chapter in his heavyweight career will begin nearly a year after he knocked out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 for the belt. If he’s able to get past Gane, a matchup with Jones could be back in the mix.
Do you think we’ll ever see Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones?