Francis Ngannou can basically handpick his subsequent opponent after stunning the world by taking lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to a cut up choice in his skilled boxing debut, however there’s possible one identify that is still out of attain.
UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Ngannou and Jones danced round a battle with each other for the higher a part of two years, however they by no means really bought to compete. Break day, accidents, and contract negotiations prevented the battle from taking place earlier than Ngannou reduce ties with the UFC as a free agent so he might pursue his boxing match with Fury, in addition to a profitable new take care of the PFL.
Whereas Ngannou’s choices are loads proper now, his head coach Eric Nicksick nonetheless goals a few world the place he can lastly get “The Predator” prepared for a battle with arguably the best combined martial artist of all-time.
“In an ideal world, for me, I nonetheless need that Jon Jones battle,” Nicksick stated Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “Hell yeah, I do. Simply because I wish to compete in opposition to the very best and I feel Jon is the very best. I don’t need any extra guesses about who’s the baddest man on the planet. Let’s run it. Let’s do it.”
As a lot as Nicksick would possibly need the battle, reserving Ngannou in opposition to Jones proper now would require the UFC to co-promote alongside the PFL. It’s a transfer the group has shot down at almost each flip exterior of the 2017 boxing match between UFC celebrity Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather.
The UFC additionally doesn’t have monetary have to co-promote with anyone thanks the corporate raking in document income and income over the previous two years, to not point out an upcoming broadcast rights deal that might be one of many richest in sports activities.
Nonetheless, Nicksick would like to see the UFC and PFL discover a technique to work collectively, if solely as soon as, to lastly put collectively a dream battle that will be even greater now after Ngannou’s efficiency in opposition to Fury.
“You may make that occur,” Nicksick stated. “Each side could make that occur in the event that they actually wished to. Set your egos apart , let’s get Allegiant Stadium [in Las Vegas], let’s give what the followers need and let’s get Jon and Francis and let’s see who the baddest man on the planet is.
“I wish to compete in opposition to the very best. I’ve stated that point and time once more. It’s no disrespect to Jon. I feel he’s the very best to ever do it, however I need that chance to educate in opposition to him and I need that chance to go beat the man.”
Ngannou left the UFC as heavyweight champion, which resulted within the promotion reserving a brand new battle between Jones and Ciryl Gane with a vacant title up for grabs. The way in which Nicksick sees it, getting Ngannou again for a battle with Jones now would solely function a payoff for the UFC after shedding him in free company.
“I have a look at it like this — in case you have [Shohei] Ohtani and let him stroll totally free, you don’t get something out of it,” Nicksick defined. “They didn’t get something again from letting the baddest man on the planet stroll away. Nothing. They didn’t go on and placed on a superfight. They didn’t do something. They simply let him stroll totally free. I feel now can sort of proper that fallacious and provides your self the chance and cross-promote. Do a PFL-UFC and let’s put the baddest man on the planet up in opposition to the opposite one. Let’s determine it out. Let’s do it at Allegiant Stadium, let’s promote the place out. Let’s promote all these pay-per-view buys.
“All people wins on the finish of the day. All people wins. The followers win. The fighters win. The promoters win. Presumably even the UFC as a result of have a look at this fashion, Francis clearly is sort of making them eat their phrases. He walked away totally free and he’s going out and doing his factor. On the finish of the day, that’s what we wished. We wished to field and do it beneath the Zuffa banner and co-promote. I feel something’s potential.”
Whereas it stays to be seen if the UFC would ever contemplate a co-promotion with anyone, a lot much less a rival MMA group, Nicksick hopes the 2 sides might discover widespread floor for the better good.
“I feel Dana [White] and the UFC are sensible businessmen,” Nicksick stated. “If the enterprise is correct, the logistics are proper, I feel you set your ego apart and simply make it occur.”