Eric Nicksick admits he was ‘pretty depressed’ when Francis Ngannou-Jon Jones fight fell through
Xtreme Couture head coach Eric Nicksick would have loved to help Francis Ngannou prepare for Jon Jones.
Ngannou and Jones were on a collision course, only thrown off by Ngannou’s contract negotiations with the UFC when the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a new deal.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou has now signed with the PFL, and the chance of a fight with current champ Jones is all but dashed – which initially had Nicksick bummed out.
“To be honest with you guys, in the very beginning, it was stressful,” Nicksick told Submission Radio. “And I think it let me down in a lot of ways, just because I always had this vision of us fighting Jon Jones, and that was what was always on the table for us. And I’m speaking from a coach and a competitor (standpoint). I wanted the opportunity to be able to go and compete against arguably the best to ever do it, in my opinion, the best to ever do it in Jon Jones.
“And that was merely my only heartbreak in the whole situation, was just the competitiveness in me. I wanted a crack at it, man. I wanted to try to put a game plan together with my best athlete and go and beat this guy who I think is the greatest ever do it. So, there was a time there, to be honest with you guys, I was pretty depressed. But it had to do with more of like, man, we’ve done four years of just grueling work in the room, and now we’re not gonna be able to show it against the guy who would be the one to cement your legacy, if you will.”
After Ngannou relinquished his belt, Jones claimed it by running through Ciryl Gane in the first round at UFC 285. Jones is considered by many to be the greatest fighter of all time, and Nicksick knows beating him would have done wonders for Ngannou’s career.
“The Jon Jones fight, as far as the combat sports side of things, that will always cement anyone’s legacy if you’re able to beat him. Right? Like, that’s the one,” Nicksick said. “But there’s other avenues I think that you can cement a different type of legacy, and I think that’s the path that Francis went on.”
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Ngannou’s move to PFL was about far more than just fighting. When securing his new deal, Ngannou was able to get equity and a leadership role within the promotion, as well as the flexibility to box. He will also serve on the PFL advisory board to represent fighter interests and has negotiated an undisclosed minimum purse for his fights, as well as a minimum of $2 million for his opponents.
“To be quite honest with you, I love Jon,” Nicksick said. “I do, man. I appreciate him. I love what he’s doing. He’s keeping things in the media and keeping things rolling. That’s fine. I hope that he does understand, like, really, what Francis did will ultimately benefit and have a chain reaction for other fighters down the line. And he’s fighting for fighters’ rights. He’s doing all the things that he feels that moves him.
“And in the past, what happened is, guys had that same identity or that same ideologies as what they were trying to accomplish. And to UFC’s credit, they just threw money at it. They were like, ‘Here, but, well, you can’t do that, but here’s more money.’ Right? And then it just went away. It just went away. So, no one ever had to deal with that kind of thing. So, it’s definitely a new precedence, I think, that Francis is able to set. And like you guys said, maybe in time more and more guys like Jon will truly appreciate what Francis was trying to do.”