Francis Ngannou’s coach gives injury update on UFC heavyweight champion

Francis Ngannou is in line for a January return to the Octagon, according to his coach Eric Nicksick, who is eyeing a seismic clash between his fighter and Jon Jones.

Knockout artist Ngannou last competed in January, retaining the UFC heavyweight title by outpointing former teammate Ciryl Gane with a surprising wrestling display.

Ngannou, 35, even carried a knee injury into the bout against the then-interim champion, and he has since undergone surgery.

Discussing a timeline for the Cameroonian’s return, Nicksick told MMA Fighting that he will know more “once [Ngannou] gets back home and the [UFC Performance Institute] re-evaluates him, because he was home for the last month to see where his knee is at”.

Nicksick also said he needs to “speak to [Ngannou’s manager] regularly to see what’s going on with the business side of everything”.

“I don’t think December is going to be a realistic timeline with where [Ngannou] is at with the rehab,” Nicksick continued. “I think it’s only been five months, because he had the surgery in March, so October would be six months for him.

“With that type of injury, that type of surgery, I think December’s a little close to be honest with you. But you never know with this guy, he might just come right back and be ready to go, and you never know what the UFC is going to be putting on our plate, either.”

Francis Ngannou taking down Ciryl Gane in the UFC 270 main event (Getty Images)
Francis Ngannou taking down Ciryl Gane in the UFC 270 main event (Getty Images)

On that note, Nicksick said he is most keen to see Ngannou take on former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who has long been planning a move to heavyweight.

Jones, who is considered by many to be the greatest mixed martial artist ever, has not fought since 2020.

“That’s the fight we all want,” Nicksick said. “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 in January or February – somewhere in that timeline.”