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Coach: Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones could be ‘biggest fight of all time,’ but Stipe Miocic is only concern right now

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UFC 249 Ngannou v Rozenstruik Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Francis Ngannou has a lot on the line when he sets foot in the octagon at UFC 260 to do battle with Stipe Miocic for the second time.

Obviously, a win for the 6-foot-4 knockout machine would most importantly make him UFC heavyweight champion. But it would also serve as a chance to avenge a lopsided loss to Miocic from just over three years ago.

On that night, Ngannou was already being hailed as the future of the division, but the Ohio native stopped his coronation by thoroughly dominating the fight from the first round until the last.

Now riding a four-fight winning streak with all of his fights ending in less than two minutes, Ngannou is ready to avenge the past loss. But his head coach Eric Nicksick also understands that beating Miocic on Saturday night will only even their series at one win a piece.

That means Ngannou could face Miocic for a third time down the road, which is something Nicksick and his team at Xtreme Couture have already quietly considered heading into Saturday’s fight.

“100 percent, and that’s always kind of been in the back of my head,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting about a possible trilogy with Miocic. “Right now, it’s obviously we need to get that first win to make that third one happen. It needs to occur on the 27th for that trilogy to come to fruition.

“But it’s quite possible to run that back again if we go out and get that victory.”

Because Miocic is the only real priority right now, Nicksick hasn’t really thought past March 27. But he’s also well aware that a win for Ngannou will also likely lead to an eventual showdown with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Jones has already been declared as the next No. 1 contender at heavyweight with plans to make his debut in the division later this year against the winner of the UFC 260 main event.

Considering Jones’ long list of accomplishments including his standing as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport right now could make a matchup with Ngannou a massive spectacle for the UFC and combat sports in general.

“You start talking about the competitor in us and here’s Jon Jones, arguably the greatest pound-for-pound to ever do it,” Nicksick said. “So to be able to compete against a guy like Jon Jones in the heavyweight division. To be honest with you, that’s probably the biggest fight of all time if we’re able to make that fight happen.”

In recent months, Jones has shown off the progression he’s made while packing on extra pounds and additional muscle to get ready for the competition at heavyweight.

Nicksick believes based on talent alone that Jones’ transition to the weight class should yield positive results, but the ex-champ also will be dealing with a different kind of power and strength at heavyweight that can’t really be quantified until actually facing bigger competition.

In fact, the Xtreme Couture head coach believes Jones might be better served taking a fight at heavyweight to test the waters. But he also fully understands it would be very difficult to pass up on an immediate title shot.

“I think he’s got a great team around him, guys who are very smart,” Nicksick said about Jones. “Me personally, if I was in Jon Jones’ camp, I would probably go and get him a fight outside of the title first to see if there are any kinks that need to be worked out. He could still run into those traps like you saw with Luke Rockhold for example — ‘I’m going to go up to 205’ and then he gets starched and he hasn’t fought since.

“If you can and you can get that title shot, then why risk that place in line? But there are a lot areas they’re going to have to improve on before jumping up. It’s kind of a hit or miss. But if you’ve got a title shot, why risk that?”

Jones seems confident that he’ll find immediate success in his new division. But Nicksick knows from experience that this kind of jump in weight class can come with all sorts of difficulties, especially when facing bigger, stronger opponents.

“You look at what happened with Jan [Blachowicz] and [Israel Adesanya],” Nicksick said. “You get a guy with that kind of top pressure who can grapple and held down.

“All those elements that you’re not really used to can kind of show up in a moment where you didn’t really realize at the time.”