Francis Ngannou meets Tyson Fury this weekend
After a long divorce from the UFC, Francis Ngannou is finally ready to compete in something other than an Octagon. Dana White‘s former heavyweight champion is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia right now preparing for this weekend’s clash with Tyson Fury; one of the greatest heavyweights of his generation.
Despite switching codes for this appearance, Ngannou is expected to continue competing in MMA. He signed a big offer with PFL earlier this year that would see him compete in that org, while also experimenting with boxing matches outside of that company.
With his toe still in the MMA cage, it’s no surprise that Ngannou is still keeping tabs on his fellow heavyweights.
In an interview with CBS Sports‘ Shakiel Mahjouri, Ngannou was asked about a match-up involving two heavyweights whom he has a lot of history with.
Francis Ngannou makes his pick for UFC 295
“I would pick Stipe,” Ngannou said. “Stylistically, Stipe. I fought Stipe twice. Stipe doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Obviously, I won the second time but I know that I could have even lost that time. I know how good of a fighter he is. He fought [Daniel Cormier] three times and you can see how he fought.”
Ngannou added that he thought Jones may struggle at heavyweight, despite Jones winning his heavyweight debut with a win over Ciryl Gane at the beginning of the year.
“This is also a different weight class for Jon Jones,” he said. “This is heavyweight and I think it’s slightly different than light heavyweight. I agree that Jon Jones is the best at light heavyweight, but I think at heavyweight he definitely will be challenged.”
Add Jones vs. Ngannou to the list of greatest fights that never were
In March 2021 Francis Ngannou KO’d Stipe Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title. The victory was revenge for a unanimous decision loss to Miocic in 2018, which marked the temporary halt of Ngannou’s surge through the UFC rankings.
After claiming gold Ngannou put his new bargaining power to good use. He attempted to leverage his position as the promotion’s marque champion to gain a better contract, one which would allow him to take boxing matches outside of the UFC.
During this prolonged contract debate with the UFC, Ngannou also campaigned for a fight with Jon Jones (who was yet to make his heavyweight debut). Jones also seemed into the idea, with both men talking online how much they wanted to fight.
Both men also, rightly, stated that such a fight would be worth a bumper purse from the UFC. The UFC disagreed. The fight wasn’t made and probably never will (at least not while both men are anywhere close to their primes).
Instead of green-lighting Ngannou vs. Jones and letting their heavyweight champ take an exhibition bout with Tyson Fury, the UFC put an interim belt on Ciryl Gane and forced Ngannou to defend his belt one more time before eventually agreeing to release him.
The UFC’s decision to not cater to the wills of their fighters (for fear more would want the same) means Ngannou vs. Jones joins the ranks of Couture vs. Emelianenko, Rousey vs. Cyborg and Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov as best UFC fights that never happened.
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