Former UFC heavyweight champion and reputed knockout artist Francis Ngannou has been all over the MMA headlines this week. “The Predator” signed a lucrative deal with PFL, which also allows him to pursue his longtime boxing aspirations.
While his peers are lauding him for this major career move, a part of his coach Eric Nicksick feels otherwise. In a recent interview with Submission Radio, he explained why.
Eric Nicksick felt “depressed” by Francis Ngannou’s PFL move
Nicksick admitted that Ngannou’s signing was a “stressful” time for him at the onset. He had major plans for his fighter, but he no longer sees them happening because of these recent developments.
“To be honest with you guys, in the very beginning, it was stressful. And I think it let me down in a lot of ways, just because I always had this vision of us fighting Jon Jones, and that was what was always on the table for us.
“And I’m speaking from a coach and a competitor. I wanted the opportunity to be able to go and compete against arguably the best to ever do it, in my opinion, the best to ever do it in Jon Jones.”
Nicksick was already thinking about the potential strategies against “Bones,” and not having the opportunity to execute them is disheartening.
“And that was merely my only heartbreak in the whole situation, was just the competitiveness in me. I wanted a crack at it, man. I wanted to try to put a game plan together with my best athlete and go and beat this guy who I think is the greatest ever to do it. So, there was a time there, to be honest with you guys, I was pretty depressed.
“But it had to do with more of like, man, we’ve done four years of just grueling work in the room, and now we’re not gonna be able to show it against the guy who would be the one to cement your legacy, if you will.”
Nicksick isn’t closing the door on Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones
UFC president Dana White already shut down any possibility of Francis Ngannou’s Octagon return. Jones, on the other hand, is already looking at his potential retirement fight against former champion Stipe Miocic sometime this year.
Nicksick, however, refuses to close the door on Ngannou vs. Jones. For him, it’s a matchup that cements a fighter’s legacy, especially with a win. And he has some reasons to have some glimmer of hope.
“I’m just an optimistic dude by nature. So, I would never say no. I wouldn’t close the door on that. Why wouldn’t we though?
“Because you gotta remember, yes, Dana and Hunter, those guys run UFC. But there’s also people above them. There’s investors and there’s WME and IMG and people that really – ESPN for example.
“So, I feel like they have bosses on bosses that might say like, no, dude, we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna roll this out. Because that is the fight that I felt everybody wanted to see.”
Francis Ngannou ‘will always’ regret not fighting Jones
For Ngannou, the Jones fight will always be the one that got away. As he said in a recent interview on the DC & RC show, it remains to be a career regret.
“I will always have a regret of not fighting Jon Jones. “I think you know, being in the sport, being in this position, what you want to do is to test yourself against somebody like Jon Jones, who stands as a GOAT of the sport.”
Francis Ngannou’s PFL debut is expected to happen in 2024. He hasn’t seen action since his first and only successful title defense at UFC 270 against Ciryl Gane in early 2022.
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