As 2023 gets underway, former two-division UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen has identified what he believes to be the biggest possible bout in mixed martial arts.
One side of the fight in question is former dominant light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, whom Sonnen lost to back in 2013. Since vacating the title in search of a fresh challenge at heavyweight following a successful defense opposite Dominick Reyes in 2020, “Bones” has been absent from the Octagon.
At the start of both 2021 and 2022, one prominent question appeared to surround whether or not fans would see Jones make the walk again. And although discussion surrounding a comeback and reports of possible appearances throughout the second half of last year existed, it’s the same story as 2023 gets underway.
By all accounts, however, the delay isn’t on the side of Jones, who’s appeared to have completed his transition to a heavyweight frame and is ready to throw down inside the cage once again.
If he finally does so this year, Sonnen believes there’s one matchup for the GOAT contender that sits above all else — not just in the UFC, but in the entire industry.
Sonnen Suggests It Doesn’t Get Bigger Than Ngannou/Jones
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, former middleweight and light heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen provided his assessment of the heavyweight title picture.
Reports late last year suggested that should a planned interim title meeting between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic at December’s UFC 282 pay-per-view not come to fruition, the promotion would turn its attention to booking “Bones” opposite reigning champion Francis Ngannou.
Should that pairing come together this year, Sonnen believes the UFC will have the chance to promote the biggest possible fight in all of MMA.
“We have three heavyweights… Who gets left out?” Sonnen said. “I’m talking about Francis, I’m talking about Jones, I’m talking about Stipe… Dana said, ‘When Jon comes back, he does it at heavyweight and his first fight back will be a title fight.’ He’s never wavered on that.
In the past, Jones has claimed that a victory over Miocic would do more for his legacy than a triumph against Ngannou. But with the former champion remaining tight-lipped on his status, leading many to believe his fighting days may be up, the time might have passed for “Bones” to go toe-to-toe with the heavyweight legend.
With that, it appears the stumbling block to Jones’ 2023 return will be Ngannou’s place in the promotion. While he’s been on the sidelines for a year owing to knee surgery, “The Predator” has also been locked in a contractual dispute that will likely come to a head soon enough.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Is Jon Jones versus Francis Ngannou the biggest possible fight in MMA?
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