The bout between UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones is probably the most anticipated bout this year.
However, there are many obstacles that are preventing this match up from getting finalized.
Ngannou’s head coach Eric Nicksick recently gave us some hope for the announcement actually happening.
Nicksick spoke to MMA Fighting, where he discussed the chances of the bout getting booked for March.
“I think it’s 50-50, to be honest with you, when you’re talking business and timeline,”
“I’m confident from what I saw from Francis a couple of weeks ago that if we had to be ready for March, I think we can get him ready, but I think it is cutting it a little bit short because he had to go back home and renew his visa.”
The coach also referenced Ngannou’s contract dispute with the UFC and how nothing had become of it yet.
“And then obviously they still haven’t announced anything yet with his contract and where they’re at, so 50-50 for me. I’m hoping for this thing, fingers crossed that we can get this deal done.“
Nicksick said that while the UFC wants it in March, it could also happen in April-May. However, his team will ensure that Ngannou will be ready regardless.
“If it’s not March, maybe it’s April or May, or something like that. I do know that they’re shooting for March and that Jon Jones is the opponent. Everything else is out of my hands, but if they tell me, ‘Hey, we’re fighting March 4,’ we’ll have our guy ready, that’s for sure.”
Ngannou was recently spotted in Cameroon next to a suspiciously placed PFL t-shirt. The negotiations have turned a corner since Ngannou and his agent left CAA but there’s no final announcement just yet.
MMA’s leading journalist Ariel Helwani expressed optimism about the booking last night:
“That was a big stumbling block. CAA, Endeavor, they’re not the best of friends, but as of right this moment, there’s no deal in place for him to re-sign. There’s no deal in place for him to fight on March 4 and that’s going to be the real interesting one.”
“It’s January 11. Who’s fighting on March 4? I’ve told you they wanted Jon Jones vs. Francis. Here’s the really interesting thing: If Jon Jones is truly ready to fight on March 4, you gotta get him a fight on March 4. The ideal scenario would be Francis, but we were also told he was truly ready to fight on December 10. You can’t delay.”