Jones, a former two-division titleholder at 205 pounds, hasn’t been in action since a successful title defense opposite Dominick Reyes in 2020. Soon after, he vacated the belt and expressed his desire to achieve championship status in a second division.
And while the heavyweight transition has certainly been a long one, with the timer on Jones’ inactivity ticking past two calendar years, a new year affirmation from “Bones” on Twitter would appear to signal 2023 as a likely comeback timeframe.
But itt appeared the same could be said in 2022. While the reigning champion was sidelined through knee surgery, reports suggested that the UFC hoped for Jones to make his divisional debut opposite Stipe Miocic.
But when that failed to come to fruition in the summer, September, or UFC 282 in December, talk has firmly returned to a possible blockbuster showdown between Jones and “The Predator” in 2023.
If the matchup does come together this year, one former UFC star believes the stakes will be huge for the heavyweight kingpin.
Sonnen: Perception Of Ngannou Will Change If He Loses To Jones
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, former middleweight and light heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen assessed Francis Ngannou’s current situation.
Throughout his ongoing contractual dispute, the Cameroonian has repeatedly noted his desire to box, branding it a crucial component of any new deal with the MMA leader. But while Sonnen believes Ngannou currently fits into the category of fighter who could qualify for such an opportunity, he believes that quickly dissipates with a loss to Jon Jones.
“Right now, you could see where Francis would qualify for that (category),” Sonnen said. “‘That’s the biggest, the scariest, the knockout artist.’ He’s got a whole bunch of things in a category that other people don’t have. You could see where he’d be an anomaly to be in a position to do something different — until he’s not.”
Despite Jones’ credentials at light heavyweight, which has led him to be considered the greatest of all time by many, Sonnen believes defeat against a “205lber” like him would be devastating for Ngannou’s reputation.
“It’ll be things that you didn’t expect, things that are totally unfair… What’s going to be different about it? Well, it’s gonna be different considering I watched Dominick Reyes beat this guy. If Dominick Reyes beat this guy and you can’t beat this guy, that means Dominick Reyes can beat you… come to think of it, I saw Dominick Reyes lose to three guys, I guess those guys can beat you too,” Sonnen continued. “That’s what’s going to happen. If you’ve got the biggest heavyweight you can find and he can’t handle a 205lber, you’ve got a problem.”
Of course, before Ngannou focuses too hard on the stakes a possible defense opposite divisional newcomer Jones would bring, there remains the uncertainty surrounding his future.
With some suggesting he may have already entered free agency, it would appear that time is ticking for Ngannou and the UFC to come to an agreement. Although a PFL tease recently spurred conversation about a departure, reporter Ariel Helwani dismissed that as the current plan, reiterating that he believes “The Predator” will remain in the Octagon.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Would a loss to Jon Jones be significantly damaging to Francis Ngannou’s reputation?
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