Video: Francis Ngannou reacts to Jon Jones’ UFC 285 title win, says fight against him will ‘probably never happen now’
Former UFC heavyweight champion and current free agent Francis Ngannou was surprised with Jon Jones’ latest performance, but more importantly, doesn’t believe a matchup against the new champ will ever happen.
Ngannou (17-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) was last seen in the UFC’s octagon at UFC 270 where he defeated Jones’ UFC 285 opponent, former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane. After an extensive recovery from knee surgery and failed negotiations for a new contract with the UFC, Ngannou walked away from the promotion and a potentially massive fight against Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC).
In the main event of UFC 285 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Jones finally made his heavyweight debut, fighting Gane for the heavyweight title that was vacated in Ngannou’s absence. The former champ was still very interested in the outcome of the fight, and watched the fight unfold live.
Ngannou celebrated as Jones tapped Gane in the first round, and then gave his thoughts on how the fight played out.
“I knew that if Jon Jones shows up in a good space mentally, not like his last two fights, he’s going to prevail in this fight, but I didn’t see this fight going this short,” Ngannou said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. “I think this fight could have been longer. I was surprised, though. I was surprised the way that the fight ended. And I think even seeing Ciryl’s reaction, he was surprised as well because he wasn’t even defending. He wasn’t thinking that a submission could come from where he was.”
When Ngannou fought Gane, the heavy-handed knockout artist went with a successful, yet never-before-seen wrestling attack, despite having torn ligaments in his knee. That led Ngannou to believe that if he could do it, Jones would also have no problem getting the fight to the mat. However, Ngannou did perceive Jones’ approach in a different light.
“That was quite a great performance from Jones,” Ngannou said. “Not very surprising, because I knew that if I could out-wrestle Ciryl, Jon would be another story. He would have a hard night if Jon could lay in on him, but what I did notice is that Jon was rushing. Jon didn’t want to give him space, because I think he was afraid of something.
“Maybe he’d get exhausted at some point, not be able to grab him, so he was chasing him from the first minute to grab him. It worked out pretty good, but it tells me something like he wasn’t very confident, he was rushing, which is good for him.”
Jones is now the official UFC heavyweight champion, however, there are some that believe the title of “undisputed” is inappropriate because Ngannou never lost the title in the cage.
UFC president Dana White told reporters before and after the conclusion of UFC 285 that negotiations with Ngannou are completely over at this point, and he will “never” fight in the UFC again. White also said Ngannou “didn’t want the fight” against Jones, which the former champ addressed.
“Fun fight, a fight I’d like to have but unfortunately, we are not there,” Ngannou said about fighting Jones. “That fight didn’t happen, and probably will never happen now that he’s on a long, very long contract with the UFC. So, that’s not happening anymore.”
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