After some very public negotiations between Jon Jones and the UFC, it appears the promotion is now set to turn its attentions elsewhere for Francis Ngannou’s first title defence.
Ever since Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic to claim the heavyweight belt a couple weeks back, all the talk has centred around Jones being the first man to face the newly crowned champ. But despite being widely considered as the greatest of all time, the UFC has been seemingly unwilling to meet Jones’ demands, with the former light heavyweight king publicly lamenting what he feels are lowball offers from his paymasters.
With things turning increasingly bitter to the point where Jones has even asked to be released from his contract, it appears negotiations have now reached a stalemate, and with no side willing to budge reports have emerged suggesting the UFC has now set its sights elsewhere.
According to Ariel Helwani who first broke the news, the alternative being considered is Derrick Lewis, and the ESPN reporter wrote the following on his Twitter page.
“UFC has kicked the tires on the Francis Ngannou x Derrick Lewis on June 12, sources say. However, the timing doesn’t work for Ngannou (and I don’t blame him; he just won the belt). Bigger story here, IMO, is, at least for now, they don’t seem keen on waiting around for Jones.”
Although it’s clear the UFC is willing to offer the fight to Lewis, as Helwani points out, the timeline is hardly ideal for that contest, meaning the Jones proposition might not be dead just yet.
“Since 6/12, at least for now, doesn’t look viable, do they revisit Jones? Maybe. But Lewis is ready, willing and able. Wouldn’t be surprised if they just try to book that rematch for sometime later in the summer/fall. Doesn’t look like they are willing to meet Jones’ price right now.”
An Ngannou vs Jones bout would undoubtedly be one of the biggest in the sport’s history, so fingers crossed they get a deal done at some point in the near future.