Ngannou and the UFC parted ways in recent days after a long-stemming contract dispute. The now-former heavyweight champion Ngannou is now free to explore other combat sports ventures, including a possible move to boxing.
Ngannou had been critical of the UFC’s business model in recent years. More specifically, the terms of fighter contracts, don’t allow fighters freedom to explore other opportunities outside of the UFC.
Jones has had his fair share of gripes with the UFC, dating back to his reign as the UFC light heavyweight champion. In 2020, he wanted a mega deal to fight Ngannou, which UFC President Dana White compared to that of boxing star Deontay Wilder.
While Jones is disappointed that his next fight won’t be against Ngannou, he understands why Ngannou was firm in his stance.
Jon Jones Empathizes With Francis Ngannou After UFC Split
During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Jones explained how his previous issues with the UFC are similar to Ngannou’s.
“I’m happy for Francis,” Jones admitted. “I’m glad that Francis knows his worth. No man has a right to shame another man for fighting for his worth. I was in a very similar situation as Francis as a light heavyweight. I was never happy with my salary. I had to sit out three years, and I missed a lot of time, but now we’re here. I encourage Francis on his journey, and I wish him all the best. Another company is going to be truly blessed to have him.”
Despite Ngannou’s release, Jones feels a fight with the former heavyweight champion remains a future possibility.
Ngannou has teased potential fights with Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, two of the top stars in boxing. He’s also not ruling out a move to another MMA promotion to continue his MMA career.
Jones will face Ciryl Gane for Ngannou’s recently vacated heavyweight title at UFC 285. He returns following a three-year hiatus, with his last fight coming in early 2020 against Dominick Reyes.
If Jones wins the heavyweight title over Gane, Ngannou’s shadow will likely remain over the division. Regardless, Jones seems to understand where Ngannou was coming from with his hostile negotiations.
All quotes from Sports Illustrated