Eric Nicksick, coach at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, would love to one day see Ngannou and Jones standing across the octagon from each other in a UFC championship bout. Nicksick is not alone. Many hope that fight materializes in the future.
But apart from Ngannou vs. Jones being one of the biggest fights that could be made in the sport, Nicksick would love the Jones challenge above any other possible matchups in the division.
“Personally, I think Jon Jones is the greatest to ever do it,” Nicksick told MMA Junkie. “As a competitor, I want to compete against the best, and I think that is Jon Jones.
“I have the utmost respect for (Jones’ coach) Brandon Gibson and Jon and everything that these guys have put together. If you want to claim your stake as one of the pound-for-pound best to ever do it, then you’re going to have to beat the guy.
“So for me, it’s just a great challenge. I love to be able to break that fight down, put our best foot forward and get a win against a guy like him. I think that’s the fight to make. I think it’s him or Stipe (Miocic). You have to give credit to what Stipe has done in the division. But you just don’t know with the timeline and what the UFC wants to push. But I feel like that’s the fight to make.”
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Nicksick is not alone in being uncertain what’s next for the champion. Ngannou currently is recovering from knee surgery and also is awaiting contract negotiations with the UFC.
On top of Ngannou’s own roadblocks, an interim title fight between Jones and Miocic also has been long rumored. If the fight does materialize, it’s not a given Jones would beat Miocic.
Nicksick can’t say for certain that the Ngannou-Jones matchup is bound to happen, but hopes the stars align.
“I mean, you would like to think so, but if you would’ve asked me that two years ago, I would’ve said, yes. Now, you never know,” Nicksick said. “I think that, hopefully, it comes down.
“We were able to sit down with Hunter (Campbell) and Dana (White) after we fought Gane, and they explained a lot of the things that went on and the behind-the-scenes of why that fight didn’t transpire. It made a lot of sense. Hopefully, now that those things get worked out, we’re able to go and compete against him.”
Jones hasn’t fought since February 2020. His past two performances went to decision and one was a split call. Many think those fights were close, and some even thought Jones had lost them.
In terms of his most recent showings, Nicksick doesn’t pay much attention into the online chatter. Nicksick thinks Jones is in need of a big challenge to get the best out of him.
“I think it’s a motivational thing for Jon, to be quite honest with you,” Nicksick said. “I think that he’s one of the best problem solvers inside the cage to ever do it. I’ve seen him make in-round adjustments, in-fight adjustments. I think the guy finds ways to win with his skill set, and he can just call audibles at will.
“I really just wonder if the motivation is there – if the burnout might’ve been there, if him taking this time off might come back reinvigorated. So I think there’s a lot of things that come in play. Overall, you have to give respect to his body of work, and sh*t man, he’s in my opinion the best to ever do it, so you can’t take this man lightly, ever.”