Dana White still re-writing history on Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou

Dana White buries the PFL co-promotion idea.

By: Zane Simon | 3 months ago

UFC CEO Dana White talks a lot. MMA media pays close attention, practically serving as transcribers and unquestioning disseminators of the ‘Bald One”s sage wisdom. That would be fine and all but then there’s the whole objective reality aspect and the fact that some fans have “conceptual object permanence” ie the ability to remember what White said before.

At the moment, his most pressing concern is to get fans to think that the reason the world’s largest MMA promotion never got Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou in the ring together had everything to do with Ngannou’s exit and nothing to do with Jones taking 3 years off in the ‘Predator”s prime.

Dana White buries PFL co-promotion idea

White appeared on Pat McAfee’s PMSLive show and was asked about the possibility of co-promoting a Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones bout with PFL. The UFC boss rejected that possibility outright.

“It wouldn’t work,” White said, bluntly, when McAfee started waxing hypothetical about PFL and the UFC working hand-in-hand.

“Francis was here, Jon Jones wanted that fight the whole time. We tried to make the fight with Francis—nah.”

In 2021 Dana White’s problem was all Jon Jones

Of course, as much as White may be on message with the idea that Francis Ngannou is public enemy number one when it comes to recent UFC negotiating problems, fans don’t have to go back all that far to get a very different view of events. In 2021, when Jones was in the middle of his self imposed hiatus, White was ready to abandon Ngannou vs. Jones entirely due to what he viewed as Jones’ outrageous salary demands.

“We tried to work with Jon, and we eventually have to move on because realistically, and in all honesty, Derrick Lewis is the guy who deserves the fight,” White said at the time. “Derrick Lewis is a heavyweight, he beat Francis Ngannou, he’s looked good in his last couple of fights, he’s ranked in the top three, I think, and he deserves the fight. That’s the fight that should happen. We’ll just roll and do what we do. When Jon’s ready, he’ll let us know.”

When was Jones actually ready? It turns out he was only ready to fight again once Ngannou was already gone and the UFC needed to fill his vacated title. Suddenly, at that point, Jones had no trouble at all jumping into the Octagon against Ciryl Gane.

Francis Ngannou responds

Unsurprisingly, Ngannou himself hadn’t forgotten the UFC’s spat with Jones and the alleged “Deontay Wilder Money” that the former light heavyweight king was accused of going after. In response to the McAfee clip, the now PFL talent gave his view of events.

In the meantime, Ngannou looks as though he won’t be stepping back in the cage anytime in 2023. Having completed his free agency move to the Professional Fighters League, the 36-year-old is currently pursuing potential opportunities in the boxing ring instead. While he’s had consistent, public interest in a superfight with both Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, there have been no signs that negotiations have gone pas the hypothetical chatter stage at this point in time.

For his part, Jones was expected to return to action against former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic sometime this fall. Rumors have since surfaced, however, that the UFC is having trouble bringing Miocic to the bargaining table, which could mean that a top contender like Sergei Pavlovich is next in line. With Jones having recently stated that his next fight may be his last, it remains to be seen if he’d be willing to take on anyone that’s not at least a somewhat proven PPV draw.

Share this story

About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories