It’s pretty clear at this point that both Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou want to fight each other in a UFC heavyweight title match-up. However, it also seems that both those fighters view their inclusion in such a bout as being worth considerably more than the UFC is willing to pay them.
A Jones-Ngannou match-up was floated last summer, but Ngannou was vocal about not wanting to fight Jones for the kind of pay he had been making as of late. And now we have Jones going public with claims that an offer in the range of $8-10 million for his this fight would be ‘way too low’.
Based on Jones’ short lived tweets regarding the situation, it sure seems that the UFC is not interested in paying blockbuster prices for a blockbuster fight. Jones’ frustration with the situation resulted in now deleted tweets calling for his UFC release.
Today ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the UFC is looking to move on from Jones and is instead interested in Ngannou taking on Derrick Lewis for his first ever title defence.
Since 6/12, at least for now, doesn’t viable, do they revisit Jones? Maybe. But Lewis is ready, willing and able. Wouldn’t be surprised if they just try to book that rematch for sometime later in the summer/fall. Doesn’t look like they are willing to meet Jones’ price right now.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 5, 2021
“UFC has kicked the tires on Francis Ngannou x Derrick Lewis on June 12, sources say,” wrote Helwani. “However the timing doesn’t work for Ngannou (and I don’t blame him; he just won the belt). Bigger story here, IMO, is, at least for now, they don’t seem keen on waiting around for Jones.”
Waiting around for Jones to accept an offer he doesn’t think is adequate? It’s unclear what Helwani thinks the UFC is waiting for Jones to do exactly.
Helwani followed up that tweet with a claim that whatever is going on with Jones and the UFC, Lewis is “ready, willing and able” to face Ngannou. He added that an Ngannou vs. Lewis showdown would be targeted for late summer/fall.
If Ngannou does face Lewis, this will be a rematch of the last fight Ngannou lost. Those two faced each other at UFC 226 in 2018 in a fight that was not for the ages. Lewis won that low-octane bout with a unanimous decision.
After that defeat Ngannou went on a tear. The Predator finished his next five fights in emphatic fashion. He stopped Curtis Blaydes in 45 seconds, Cain Velasquez in 26 seconds, Junior dos Santos in just over a minute and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds.
At UFC 260 in March he took his time, KOing Stipe Miocic in the second round to lift the heavyweight title.