Francis Ngannou may have a lot of options ahead of him with a win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. But one fight he’s no longer pursuing is a showdown with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
During the event’s pre-fight press conference on Thursday, Ngannou addressed the potential fight with Jones, who has been teasing his move to heavyweight for nearly two years after vacating his 205-pound belt.
Past attempts to book the fight have come up short, and now Ngannou is just no longer interested in Jones as an opponent.
“No, I’m done with that fight,” Ngannou said asked about facing Jones next. “I’ve been waiting for that fight for so long. After Stipe [Miocic], it was supposed to be Jon Jones and that never happened. I don’t know why. So I moved on.”
The long-rumored fight first started to gain interest after Jones teased his move to heavyweight, which had Ngannou volunteering to welcome him to the division. Jones then reached out to the promotion about landing the fight, which then led to a very public war of words with UFC President Dana White.
White said Jones had asked for money comparable to what Deontay Wilder made for his rematch against Tyson Fury — reportedly around $30 million — in order to face Ngannou at heavyweight. Jones countered by saying he never even got to discuss numbers with the UFC brass because they shot down his request to even attempt a negotiation for a better deal than the contract he had previously signed.
Interest in the fight once again gained momentum after Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic to become heavyweight champion in March 2021. But Jones remained at odds with the UFC over his contract.
The UFC quickly moved on from the longtime light heavyweight champ, who hasn’t fought since February 2020. Jones, however, is still training to prepare for his eventual return to the octagon. He even tweeted earlier this week that he was looking forward to watching Ngannou battle Gane and plans to study both.
Really have no clue who’s going to win, I’m just excited to watch the fight. Going to learn so much about the both of them no matter how it goes down https://t.co/e59QVSiuy7— BONY (@JonnyBones) January 18, 2022
Beyond Ngannou’s own declaration that he’s moved on from a possible fight with Jones after Saturday night, White was also less than enthusiastic when addressing him as the No. 1 contender in the heavyweight division once he is finally ready to compete again.
“I don’t feel confident saying that Jon Jones is next,” White told ESPN. “Not because I think he’s unreliable, it’s because I honestly don’t know what Jon Jones wants to do next. I think Jon’s going to watch this fight, and he’ll decide. Maybe he doesn’t fight at heavyweight. Maybe he goes back and tries to regain the light heavyweight championship.
“I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. After everything plays out on Saturday — there’s just so much going into this fight. It’s all part of the drama, though. It’s what makes this weekend so fun.”
Judging by those comments, Jones might end up rooting for Gane to walk away victorious, because at least the interim heavyweight champion has already said that’s the fight he would want next if he gets through Ngannou at UFC 270.