UFC President Dana White and the promotion’s former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou have rarely seen eye-to-eye in recent years.
On one subject, however, they appear to be on the same page: Ngannou won’t be fighting Jon Jones any time soon. Probably ever.
Ahead of UFC 285, White was overheard in a media scrum saying that Ngannou would never return to the UFC. “The Predator” split for free agency early this year, vacating his heavyweight title — which Jones won over the weekend when he submitted Ciryl Gane.
“No, no. We negotiated with him for years. It’s over. That’s over,” White told reporters. “No, he’ll never be in the UFC.”
He had similar comments at the UFC 285 post-fight press conference, when asked about the fan interest in Jones vs. Ngannou.
“I tried to make that fight,” White reiterated, saying the fight was “Done. Never going to happen. We tried to make that fight with him for three years. You’ve got to want that fight. We all want to see a fight; the guy’s got to want the fight. Francis doesn’t want the fight, you can’t make him fight. And I doubt it would have gone any differently.”
As it turns out, while Francis Ngannou no doubt disagrees about not wanting the fight, he does agree that it won’t happen. On his own Youtube channel, Ngannou gave his reaction to Jones’ performance against Gane, which saw “Bones” return from three years off to submit the French heavyweight inside of a round.
“That was quite a great performance from Jones,” Ngannou stated, after a clip of him watching the fight live. “Not very surprising, because I knew that if I could out-wrestle Ciryl, Jon would be another story. He would have a hard night if Jon could’ve lay in on him, but what I did notice is that Jon was rushing. Jon didn’t want to give him space, because he knew that, I think he was afraid of something. Maybe of getting exhausted at some point, not be able to grab him, so he was chasing him from the first minute to grab him. It worked out pretty good, but [it] tells me something like he wasn’t very confident, he was rushing. Which is good for him.”
“Fun fight, a fight I’d like to have but unfortunately, we are not there,” Ngannou added on the prospect of fighting Jon Jones. “That fight didn’t happen, and probably will never happen now that he’s on a long, he’s on a very long contract with the UFC. So, that’s not happening anymore.”
This one may wind up being up there with the likes of Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre as far as fights that regrettably never happened.