Francis Ngannou is reportedly unlikely to return to the octagon this year, according to coach Eric Nicksick. Ngannou is the current UFC heavyweight champion. He hasn’t competed since defeating Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January.
Ngannou outperformed Gane on the judges’ scorecards by using an unexpected grappling-heavy game plan. He had surgery for his knee injuries after the victory and was expected to miss the next 9 months.
Ngannou’s return is highly anticipated yet unlikely due to his contract dispute with the UFC in addition to recovering from knee surgery. However, it now seems that may not be the case.
Ngannou’s head coach is the head coach of Xtreme Couture, Eric Nicksick.
He recently gave an interview explaining that Francis Ngannou will not make his comeback to for at least another six months. Early 2023 seems to be the most opportune time.
Nicksick wants Ngannou to face Jon Jones in the first half of 2023.
According to Nicksick,
“The way I look at it is, Jon Jones has been out for two and a half years. If we can’t do it in December, and depending on the way the UFC schedule plays out, maybe [it can happen] in January or February, somewhere in that timeline.”
“Jon hasn’t fought in so long, Stipe [Miocic] hasn’t fought since Francis beat him, so that will be two years for Stipe in March, so might as well wait another month for the super fight and the fight to make.”
“Honestly, for me, I’d love the Stipe fight again, or the Jones fight, but if I had my choice between the two, obviously I want to compete against the best to ever do it, in my opinion, and that’s Jon Jones.”