Jon Jones is throwing Francis Ngannou under the bus.
For the past several years, MMA fans have salivated over the idea of a potential superfight between Jones and Ngannou, with both men building interest for the matchup. But that fight is unlikely to happen any time soon, since Ngannou parted ways with the UFC in January after he was unable to come to terms with the promotion. Instead, Jones will now face former interim champion Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285, and Jones blames Ngannou for what happened.
“I don’t think I deserve any criticism,” Jones told RMC Sport. “I’m here. I’m here. Francis had the opportunity to face me and he opted out of the opportunity. If anyone should be criticized, it’s Francis Ngannou. If I’m correct, he was offered the biggest contract in heavyweight history. He had the opportunity to be a guy to dethrone me. He didn’t believe in himself. Francis didn’t believe in himself. He wasn’t willing to gamble on himself.”
Jones and Ngannou have been talking about fighting one another since 2020, with Jones even vacating his light heavyweight belt with the intention of moving up to heavyweight. The fight never came to fruition though as Jones took his time moving up, and so instead Ngannou win the heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic and then defended it against Gane. Following his defense against Gane, Ngannou underwent surgery that kept him sidelined for most of 2022, and now he’s out of the promotion. But Jones says he he wouldn’t count out the possibility of the matchup still happening somewhere down the line.
“I felt bad for the fans. I know that would have been a massive fight for the fans,” Jones said. “People from all around the world would have loved to see that event. And I’m not counting it out – I could see Francis going and fighting in boxing and doing whatever he’s going to do. I think he’s always going to be welcome back to the UFC. That’s always going to be a big, big fight, and I’ll be ready for him.”
UFC 285 takes places on March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.