Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was initially supportive of Ngannou’s choice to pursue free agency.
Both Jones and Ngannou were locked in tense renegotiations with the UFC that left the bout between them shelved. While Ngannou ultimately didn’t agree to a long term deal with the UFC and countered offering a 3 bout deal, Jones signed a new 8 bout contract.
Previously, Jones addressed Ngannou’s free agency saying:
“I’m glad that Francis knows his worth. No man has a right to shame another man for fighting for his worth. I was in a very similar situation as Francis as a light heavyweight. I was never happy with my salary. I had to sit out three years, and I missed a lot of time, but now we’re here.”
But Jones turned a corner once he heard Francis Ngannou say that whoever UFC crowns as the new champion won’t be undisputed because they’ve never beaten him.
Ngannou said on his YouTube channel: ‘I want to share my excitement for the heavyweight fight between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane.
‘It’s going to be a very exciting fight. I’m going to be watching that fight. But we all know the term undisputed means nothing here. Yes, it really means nothing. But I will still be excited watching that fight.’
Ngannou actually has a point here – and this is where UFC’s choice of adopting boxing’s vernacular comes back to bite them.
In boxing, the term “undisputed” is used to refer to a boxer who holds all of the major world championship titles in their weight class. This means that the boxer has defeated all other contenders and is recognized as the best in their weight division by all of the major sanctioning bodies in boxing. Winning an undisputed title is considered a major accomplishment in the sport, as it requires defeating multiple top-ranked boxer to unify the various championship titles.
As we know, UFC owns the controlling share of the MMA market and they’ve repeatedly said they don’t do cross promotion hence none of their champions are actually undisputed.
inally being honest about Francis Ngannou. Jones got real after seeing Ngannou’s interview where he said that he is undisputed.
Jones took to his Twitter account to respond to the clip:
“I found an interview of Francis talking about how he’ll forever be the undisputed champion because no one beat him. Once I saw that, my tone changed. I thought I would tell how I really felt. He did make the right decision, he left before I came back. Smart move!”
The heavyweight belt is now vacated and will be contested by Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane at at UFC 285 on March 4.
Ezra Samuel is a passionate freelance writer with a particular love for covering MMA news. His interest in the sport dates back to his college days, and he has since established himself as a respected voice in the MMA community. Over the years, Ezra has contributed his writing to a variety of digital outlets, including the popular site calfkicker.