Francis Ngannou is using Jon Jones’ own words to prove who the real undisputed heavyweight champion is.
Jones is set to fight Cyril Gane at UFC 285 on March 4th in a battle for the vacant UFC heavyweight title. The spot sits empty because Francis Ngannou refused to re-sign with the UFC. He’s now a free agent, fielding eight-figure offers to compete in boxing.
While Jones was initially respectful of Ngannou’s decision to stand up for himself during contract negotiations, “Bones” has been stirring the pot as we quickly approach his return to the Octagon.
“Francis had the opportunity to face me and he opted out of the opportunity,” Jon said in an interview with RMC Sport. “If anyone should be criticized, it’s Francis Ngannou. If I’m correct, he was offered the biggest contract in heavyweight history. He had the opportunity to be a guy to dethrone me. He didn’t believe in himself. Francis didn’t believe in himself. He wasn’t willing to gamble on himself.”
On Twitter, Jones explained the sudden change in attitude towards Ngannou.
“I found an interview of Francis talking about he’ll forever be the undisputed champion because no one beat him,” he wrote. “Once I saw that, my tone changed. I thought I would tell how I really felt. He did make the right decision, he left before I came back. Smart move!”
“Jonny boy pick a side of the fence,” Ngannou responded with a laughing emoji. Attached to the tweet was an old quote from Jon Jones about Daniel Cormier.
“He was never the light heavyweight champion. He never beat me,” the quote read. “This has been my era since 2011. I want to make that loud and clear. ‘DC’ is no champ champ. When we talk about an asterisk next to my name, there’s always going to be an asterisk next to the idea of him being a champ-champ.”
Game, set, match.
So long as Francis Ngannou is out there and undefeated, whoever holds the UFC heavyweight belt is going to have a hard time claiming undisputed legitimacy. But Ngannou is looking to step into a boxing ring against Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, or Tyson Fury sometime in 2023. If he does that and gets boxed up as badly as many expect him to?
Jones or Gane may find themselves looking a lot more legitimate after that happens. Then who gets the last laugh?