When Francis Ngannou defeated Stipe Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title, all eyes immediately shifted to a blockbuster bout between the new champion and Jon Jones.
It’s a fight that Ngannou wants. It’s a fight that Jones wants. It’s a fight that fans want.
Jones relinquished the UFC light heavyweight title last year, upset with the financial details of his contract. Though he teased retirement, he instead put his focus on a move to heavyweight, aiming for bigger challenges and bigger paydays.
Dana White ready to move on from Jon Jones
But hopes for an Ngannou vs. Jones bout began to fade fast when Jones and UFC president Dana White began a war of words that has played out over social media and in traditional media appearances. The ship is sailing fast, and White now appears ready to let it fade into the sunset.
At least, that is is what he is saying publicly.
“We tried to work with Jon and we eventually have to move on because, realistically, in all honesty, Derrick Lewis is the guy who deserves the fight. 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. He deserves the fight, so 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,” White said on a recent podcast on TheRinger.com.
“In his deal, he’s talking he wants $30 million guaranteed,” he continued. “The way that this works is these guys all share in the pay-per-view. You think that this is gonna be a big fight. I agree with you and think it’s gonna be a big fight. Well, he will share in the profits of the fight. That’s how it works. That’s how you run a business and you don’t go broke.”
Is Dana White focusing on Derrick Lewis a negotiating strategy?
White moving hard toward Ngannou vs. Lewis could simply be a move to force Jones’s hand, but it is also a move that does make sense from a sporting aspect.
As White said, Lewis holds a decision win over Ngannou from July of 2018. Though he went on to lose his bid to capture the title from then-champion Daniel Cormier and then lost to former titleholder Junior dos Santos, Lewis has since won four consecutive bouts. His last two victories, over Aleksei Oleinik and Curtis Blaydes, were both via knockout.
Jones hasn’t fought since February of 2020. He vacated the light heavyweight title in August. He has posted frequently on social media about his preparations for heavyweight, but has it all been for naught?
UFC 260 highlights & recap: Francis Ngannou takes heavyweight strap from Stipe Miocic
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