Francis Ngannou is content with his decision to turn down a lucrative contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in order to test free agency, but that doesn’t mean the former UFC heavyweight champion isn’t disappointed about never meeting Jon Jones inside of the Octagon.
While Ngannou and Jones tried to book a superfight for what seemed to be an eternity the promotion couldn’t get a deal done. Eventually, UFC couldn’t sweeten the pot enough to even keep Ngannou on the roster. “Predator” eventually parted ways with the promotion which allowed Jones to fight Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 and capture the vacant UFC heavyweight title in the process.
UFC president Dana White has gone on record saying that Ngannou will never fight in UFC again after failing to agree on a new contract over the course of a few years. Ngannou is fine with that decision, but the heavyweight fighter would be lying if he didn’t say he regrets not fighting Jones.
“For three years I tried to fight Jon Jones,” Ngannou told ESPN on Friday. “I did everything to have that fight. I wanted that fight, but not at any cost.
“There is not a fight on Earth I would back down for. I would go there and whatever happens, happens. It’s the sport. Jon Jones is not the guy. He might be the best fighter ever, but he’s not the guy I’m running away from. Nah. Not him. I would fight Jon Jones twice a month.”
Ngannou, who is one of the most prolific knockout artists to ever compete in mixed martial arts (MMA), is expected to move over to the sport of boxing for his next fight. Nothing is set in stone as of now, but the former UFC champion is hoping to lock horns with some of the best heavyweight boxers around.
“My next step has to be boxing,” Ngannou said. “I want to do one boxing match first, and then maybe go back to MMA because I still enjoy MMA. I want to do a couple of fights in boxing. We are working on some stuff and hopefully in a month or two, I will be able to come out with an announcement on potential fight dates and locations. It’s taking a little longer than I expected but it’s coming along. Big things come with time.
“I’m considering everybody [as an opponent]. I talked to [promoter] Eddie Hearn about Anthony Joshua, I don’t know what’s going to happen. The most that we have spoken with is Deontay Wilder’s team. We’ve been having some exchanges, basically coming to some sort of verbal agreement.”
Whether Ngannou’s long-term home is in boxing or MMA his personal goal is to bring a combat sports event back to Africa. That’s been something “Predator” has been trying to facilitate for quite some time and not something he’s willing to give up on despite his UFC departure.
“I always wanted to have an event in Africa,” Ngannou said. “To fight at home but also to give my people a show, an opportunity to see all those big events and give a gift to the kids to believe in this sport and let them know what anything is possible. I’m still working to bring something to Africa and I will do that. That’s my personal mission.”