It’s crazy to see an elite fighter with four consecutive first round finishes being considered for a fifth contender matchup but in the case of the rumoured battle between Francis Ngannou and the current light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones – the opportunity could well be too great to pass up on for The Predator.
However, according to Jon himself, the UFC have declined to pay him the sum of money necessary to provoke a move to the heavyweight division.
Now, I’m not saying he’s lying, but I think it’s fair to approach his words with a healthy degree of scepticism.
Is Jones actually considering a jump up to heavyweight at last? Or is he simply using Ngannou’s name to elevate his own at a point in time where he has yet to sign on the dotted line for a light-heavyweight title defense.
Your guess is as good as mine but either way, it’s clear that this is a fight that needs to happen if Jon is to take a step out of his comfort zone and reach his actual potential, something that has eluded him during this recent part of his time in the sport.
The Major Criticism Of Jon Jones’ Career
Jon Jones is not a risk taker with his career.
It’s the drawback that led his reluctance to fight a short-notice opponent in Chael Sonnen at UFC 151 all those years ago – something that led to the cancellation of the entire event – and for many, it’s the reason he hasn’t made the move to heavyweight up until this point.
In terms of his approach to fight preparation, Jones has an analytical approach that dissuades him from angling towards being a company man, the guy who saves the day by making the quote/unquote ‘badass’ move.
And that’s fine.
But given that his reasons for not taking the fight, according to him, stem from financial reluctance on the part of the UFC – can we assume that Jon would relish that challenge of formulating a gameplan to defeat The Predator?
From what I know of Jon Jones the competitor, I would imagine he would.
But I don’t know that for sure and it does make me wonder why a move to heavyweight hasn’t materialised up until this point.
It’s Perhaps The Biggest Fight The UFC Can Make Right Now
Yes, Jones isn’t exactly Mr. Popular right now, but fans are fickle and if he were to make what could be described as a ‘badass’ move, it would no doubt do wonders in restoring his image.
Francis is a budding star who is crying out for the chance to take home a signature win.
He’s a figure that those who despise Jones can rally behind – a man who can bring devastating consequences in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Jones’ PPV numbers have not been spectacular of late but Daniel Cormier aside, if you look down the list of fighters he has fought, it could easily be said he has not been in there with a superstar (or a fighter as magnetic as Ngannou) since he took on Chael Sonnen back in 2013.
A Stylistic Clash For The Ages
The supreme technician against the hardest puncher the sport has ever known.
Indeed we have seen this type of matchup before, but I would argue that never before have we seen in it at such extremes. Ngannou has the type of power that makes most punchers seem inconsequential by comparison.
The term ‘touch of death’ that was famously coined by TriStar’s Firas Zahabi – but fired up into overdrive.
Jon remains one of the sport’s most technically astute fighters. Over the years, his wild unpredictable offense has been pushed to one side in favour of a watertight defense.
Matching these two up, takes the often-cited label that ‘styles make fights’ and brings it to another level entirely.
This fight is unlikely to be close but as a payoff, the winner will have accomplished something truly unique to both their own career – and to the sport as a whole.
We all know how it will look if Francis gets the win.
If Jon can weather that storm in a new division, in spite of the gulf in physicality that would exist between him and Ngannou – I think it would stand as the greatest victory of his career to date.
It Would Help The Jon Jones Brand Immensely
Let’s not sugar coat it, Jon Jones’ stock has never been lower.
This, of course, has come about as a consequence of both his everpresent personal struggles and the narrowing gap between him and the 205lb contenders but on top of that, in the age of the double champion, his resistance towards a move up in weight has never been a greater source of frustration for his fans.
Now, look, the jump that exists between light-heavyweight and heavyweight is one that carries with it far more in the way of risk than any other divisional move.
But in saying that, even Jon’s most determined hater would be forced to tip their cap if he did, in fact, manage to score a win over the most dangerous fighter in the sport.
Personally, I have no problem with a champion who reigns over one division and one division only, but in this day and age, the Jon Jones brand would be helped tremendously by a risk of these proportions.
It Sets Up A Massive Heavyweight Title Fight
And finally, lest we forget, the heavyweight title is seemingly up for grabs for the winner of the inevitable trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.
No matter who comes out on top of either fight – you’ll be looking at one of the greatest heavyweight matchups of all-time.
On top of that, if Cormier can seal off his trio of bouts with Stipe with a victory and Jones can do the same against Ngannou, the most compelling rivalry of the era gets its third and final entry in a new weight class – a fight between the undeniable top contender and a champion who could easily call himself the greatest in the division’s history.
Before even discussing numbers, the UFC was unwilling to pay more for the Francis super fight / for me to move to heavyweight. Said I could possibly earn more in pay-per-view buys.— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 21, 2020