It appears the UFC is prepared to move on from a long-rumored, and quite frankly, much-anticipated heavyweight title showdown between Francis Ngannou and former two-time light heavyweight best, Jon Jones, with the promotion’s head-honcho, Dana White, claiming Jones is asking for “$30 million, guaranteed” to stand opposite the Cameroonian.
Scooping the undisputed crown at the second time of asking at UFC 260 in March, Batie-bruiser, Ngannou scored a second-round knockout win over defending kingpin, Stipe Miocic, with all eyes immediately set on a showdown with Jones.
Relinquishing his championship last August, Jones made it clear that he was finally making moves to make a long-awaited leap to the heavyweight division, with White transparently earmarking the Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay as next in line for the victor of Miocic vs. Ngannou II.
In the time since relinquishing the title, Jones has taken on a rigorous strength and conditioning regiment ahead of the move, however, any potential clash with Ngannou appeared to hit the rocks in the weeks following the Cameroonian’s assumption to the throne.
In the post-fight press conference following UFC 260, White questioned if Jones was really interested in tackling Ngannou off the back of the champion’s stunning stoppage win over Miocic, which led Jones to question why White would attempt to promote him in this manner.
Amid a lengthy tirade on Twitter, Jones explained that it was clear that White “hates” him, and that he has spoken with UFC EVP and Chief Business Officer, Hunter Campbell, informing him that a sum in the region of “eight to ten million” would be way too low to meet with Ngannou in a fight of that “magnitude“.
In the time since, reports emerged that the UFC were tentatively attempting to book Ngannou against the surging past-opponent, Derrick Lewis next, with a June 12th. UFC 263 landing pad refused by the newly-minted crown holder, who cited a less than ideal timeframe given his recent Octagon walk on March 27th.
With all roads appearing to point toward an upcoming rematch of Ngannou and Lewis, White has claimed that the rematch between the two is, logically, the next fight to make, before claiming Jones had asked to be compensated a “guaranteed” $30 million to fight Ngannou.
“We (the UFC) tried to work with Jon (Jones), and we eventually have to move on because realistically and in all honesty, Derrick Lewis is the guy who deserves the fight,” White said during an appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast. “Derrick Lewis is a heavyweight, he beat Francis Ngannou, he’s looked good in his last couple of fights. He’s ranked in the top three, I think, and he deserves the fight. That’s the fight that should happen. We’ll just roll and do what we do. When Jon’s ready, he’ll let us know.“
“In his (Jones’) deal, he’s talking — he wants $30 million, guaranteed,” White continued. “The way that this works is, these guys all share in the pay-per-view… so he will share in the profits of the fight. That’s how it works. That’s how you run a business and you don’t go broke.” (H/T MMA Junkie)