UFC

Jones offers update over UFC future as Ngannou outlines his plans for 2021

By Sports Desk March 31, 2021

Francis Ngannou plans to have two more fights in 2021 and has reaffirmed his desire to take on Jon Jones, whose future with UFC remains unclear.

Ngannou claimed the heavyweight title in style on Saturday, dethroning Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 thanks to a second-round knockout in a rematch of their meeting back in January 2018.

The 34-year-old made clear in the immediate aftermath that he is ready and willing to face Jones, a fighter he described as the GOAT of MMA.

A two-time former light-heavyweight champion, Jones has not fought in just over a year amid contract negotiations. Whether he returns or not, Ngannou understands he is now in a position to call the shots.

"I don't know what exactly happened between Jon Jones and the UFC, but I think there's something wrong, and I also think he handled it maybe a little in the wrong way," Ngannou said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show.

"Listen, that's not my business. There's a lot of contenders ready to fight. For the first time, I'm the man who's making the call.

"I don't have to sit down and wait for people. They're waiting for me, and I'm ready.

"I can choose to fight, and I want to fight maybe two [more] times this year. I hope that [Jones] fight happens."

Jones provided an update on his own situation via Twitter on Wednesday, revealing negotiations are continuing with the organisation.

"I had a brief phone meeting with UFC's lawyer Hunter [Campbell] a few days ago. As of right now I expressed to him that anywhere around eight to $10million would be way too low for a fight of this magnitude. That’s all that has been discussed so far," he tweeted.

"I'm supposed to be waiting for what their offer is going to be. Really hoping the numbers are nowhere near that low. I guess we will see what happens."

If Jones is not available, Ngannou could instead be set for a rematch with Derrick Lewis, who won a forgettable first fight by unanimous decision back in July 2018.

However, the new champion promises there will be no repeat, should the rivals go up against each other once again.

"I think we'll have this fight that never really happened. I will have to give the fans what they deserve," Ngannou said.

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    Ngannou retained his heavyweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Ciryl Gane in Anaheim on Saturday.

    The 35-year-old got the better of his former training partner Gane for the first victory by decision of his 17-3-0 UFC career.

    Ngannou then revealed he had actually torn his MCL and damaged his ACL while sparring in preparation for the fight.

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    "I continue to be amazed and inspired by Francis' heart and resilience," Martin said.

    "Fighting on one leg to overcome all odds and remind the world he is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. I think we can all agree he deserves some time to go back home and be with his family and countrymen.

    "Upon his return, we plan on getting surgery and starting the recovery process so we can get him back to 100 percent as soon as possible.

    "In the meantime, we hope we can find a peaceful resolution in these contract talks [with the UFC]. We'd like to thank all the fans for their continued support and belief in Francis."

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    Ngannou on Saturday defeated Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision to unify the UFC heavyweight division, a feat he achieved despite tearing his MCL in the build-up to the fight. 

    The UFC 270 loss was the first of Gane's career, while Ngannou improved to 17-3 by extending his victorious streak to six fights. 

    The Cameroonian is widely regarded as the hardest puncher in UFC and, with contract negotiations with the organisation dragging on due to a pay dispute, he has been heavily linked with a switch to boxing. 

    WBC heavyweight champion Fury would relish the chance to take on Ngannou, suggesting it could put his financial concerns to bed. 

    "Congratulations Francis Ngannou but if you want to make some real money, come see the Gypsy King," Fury posted on Twitter. 

    Ngannou trained as a boxer in the early stages of his career in combat sports and expressed he remains keen to return to the discipline following his victory over Gane. 

    "As I always say, boxing is always in the back of my pocket. It's something that I must do before the end of my career," he said. 

    "And right now, I'm really looking towards any opportunity to get that because it's not like I had a lifetime here so I better start thinking about it." 

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