Jon Jones is set to make his return next month at UFC 285. In a heavily anticipated return, Jones will make his heavyweight debut and fight for the title as well. However, Jones believes that his return could well have been against former champ Francis Ngannou.
Previously, Francis Ngannou made his exit from the UFC. After long-drawn contract negotiations, the former heavyweight champ was unable to accept the UFC’s terms. Thus, the Predator instead chose to pursue his dreams of boxing and is understood to be in discussions with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
However, Jones has a different take on the matter. “Francis had the opportunity to face me and he opted out of the opportunity. 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.”
This is a little surprising considering that Jones was empathetic to Ngannou’s decision to leave only months ago. As such, Jones seems to have made a U-turn in his stance. After having been in a similar position himself, many would have assumed that the former light heavyweight champ would be a little less harsh on Ngannou. Moreover, the two have met previously and have been pretty amicable as well.
Fans are shocked with ‘bad guy’ Jon Jones
Naturally, Jones’ comments have come under heavy scrutiny with some fans pointing out his hypocrisy. Similarly, other fans believe that Jones is simply trying to stir up controversy. For the most part, many are rather unconvinced that Francis Ngannou chose not to face Jones because he was scared. Rather Ngannou himself wanted the fight to happen for a long time.
As such, let’s take a look at what the fans had to say about Jones’ comments.
Didn’t Jon commend Francis for sticking to his guns and knowing his worth? Lmao DC was right when he said Jon can turn it on when he needs to 😭
— JRomeo (@JRomeo92) February 24, 2023
That last part is blatantly untrue. All Francis has ever done is gamble on himself. He doesn't lack confidence
— MattTGM (@MattTGM14) February 24, 2023
Early advertising for when ngannou comes back
— Kevo24 (@Kevo2415) February 24, 2023
I seem to remember Jon refusing the fight a few times while Francis was still under contract. Or was that because he kept getting arrested. Hard to keep track
— Bryan (@_illmatic22) February 24, 2023
Love this, keep poking the bear and setup Francis' return after he makes his money boxing.
— CSP (@CarlPetroff) February 24, 2023
You mean the guy who waited 3 years between fights and then moved to heavyweight immediately after Francis left?… yeah no it’s definitely Francis’s fault though…
— Nick (@NickB1016) February 24, 2023
jon jones, the guy who didn’t fight for years because he wanted more money. criticizing another fighter for wanting to make more money. same old jon
— Ben🔜🌕 (@butze_) February 24, 2023
With Francis Ngannou vacating his title, Jon will now take on Ciryl Gane in the main event of UFC 285. After showing a seemingly new form of himself, it appears that Jon is still the same. Moreover, his stronger and bigger physique could be giving him the confidence to try and instigate a future fight against Ngannou.
Thus, many fans have stated that “It is time to promote the fight” already. With Ngannou set to take time off and ply his trade in boxing, it is unlikely that a fight will happen in the near future. For now, Jones needs to contend with Ciryl Gane, who is certainly a very capable fighter and could halt his heavyweight aspirations very early on.