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Daniel Cormier picks Jon Jones over Francis Ngannou as biggest threat to Ciryl Gane

Jon Jones will square off against Daniel Cormier in the UFC 182 main event.
Jon Jones will square off against Daniel Cormier in the UFC 182 main event.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Daniel Cormier sees Ciryl Gane as a different breed of heavyweight, and he’s not sure whether undisputed champ Francis Ngannou will measure up when they eventually face off.

Gane is expected to take on Ngannou in a title unifier somewhere in the near future, and based on what Cormier saw when Gane faced Derrick Lewis at UFC 265, the France native could be the next undisputed champ.

“You asked me who can beat Ciryl Gane, and right now, I’m not certain,” Cormier said on the video podcast “DC and RC. “You know who I do believe has the best chance to beat him, and this is crazy coming from me – Jon Jones. Jon Jones is the guy that will present the most problems to Ciryl Gane. Why? Because Jon Jones has fought at 205, Jon Jones has skill of a little guy, Jon Jones has seen athletes before.

“Jon Jones beat me twice. I’m an athlete. He’s seen the speed, he’s seen the foot movement and the angles, he’s had to deal with guys like that before. Now, can he handle that at a weight class above? I don’t know. But I truly believe that Jones is one of the guys that truly can give Ciryl Gane problems, but I don’t know who beats him. I think Francis has his hands full, man. I think Francis really has his hands full.”

Cormier rarely has nice things to say about Jones, his heated rival since a run-in backstage at a UFC 121. A pair of fights - one ending in a decision loss at UFC 182 and the other ending in a knockout loss later overturned by a positive drug test by Jones – did little to bring peace. A former two-division champ, Cormier has capitalized on Jones’ trouble outside the cage, and he’s repeatedly taken “Bones” to task over those missteps. He’s also rarely missed an opportunity to fire back at a Jones dig on Twitter.

But competitively, Cormier indicated Jones might be the best fit for a champion that appeared to be a new breed of UFC heavyweight.

“Ciryl Gane looks like an athlete,” Cormier said. “He’s an athlete, and you said 240 [pounds], no bodyfat, lean, physical. That is exactly what we said about Francis Ngannou when he beat Stipe [Miocic].

“Now you have a heavyweight champion that does not look like he’s walking around the street. You can see a Daniel Cormier all over the place. Stipe looks like he might be an accountant ... you don’t see Ciryl Ganes walking down the street in Louisiana. So you have this next level of guy.

“Now, as mixed martial artists start to make more money, now the big guys don’t feel like they need to run to basketball. They don’t need to run to football to try to get paid. They can get paid inside the octagon.”

UFC President Dana White has not outlined a timeframe for the heavyweight showdown. Heading into UFC 265, the promotion set up the interim title fight between Gane and Lewis as more of a title eliminator with an absent Ngannou unable to defend his belt. Ngannou was none too happy about a new belt being put on the line less than five months after capturing the undisputed title from record-setting champ Stipe Miocic, but he praised Gane, a former teammate, and looked forward to the matchup.

Check out the full clip below.

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