Jon Jones has taken the opportunity that Francis Ngannou didn’t.
Ngannou and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) couldn’t reach an agreement on a new deal after roughly a full deal of the now-former Heavyweight champion standing his ground. UFC President, Dana White, expressed this past weekend (Jan. 14, 2022) that Ngannou’s offer would have made him the highest-paid Heavyweight fighter in UFC history.
That claim now belongs to Ngannou’s would-be opponent, Jones, according to his manager, Richard Schaefer. The team was ultimately able to get matters sorted for a March 4, 2023, vacant title clash at UFC 285 against Ciryl Gane.
“UFC realizes that Jon Jones is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) and he is a generational talent. So, they were very much interested and very open to work with us and come to the conclusion of putting together a fair deal, which we did here,” Schaefer told The MMA Hour. “That deal which we made for Jon — in the history of the UFC — makes Jon now the highest-paid Heavyweight athlete. Overall, I think as [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter [Campbell] mentioned to me, probably the second highest number next to Conor McGregor”
When discussing the news, White also shared that the promotion and Jones had agreed to the deal being an eight-fight contract. Schaefer clarified that while this was technically true in a sense, Jones just had some details tweaked as he was already under an eight-fight deal, but it was for his former division, Light Heavyweight. Obviously, Heavyweight bouts have been added to the contract.
“It was a long negotiation, but it was not a hostile negotiation,” Schaefer said. “It wasn’t like where both sides tuck their heels in. I think both sides wanted to find a way, and we found a way, and here it is.”