Francis Ngannou’s ship against John Jones has set sail for now, at least in the eyes of UFC President Dana White.
Speaking to The Ringer, White touched on the ongoing negotiations for a highly anticipated superfight between Ngannu, the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, and John Jones, the greatest light heavyweight fighter in promotion history. White and Jones have been in public talks for over a year about the possibility of Jones moving to the heavyweight division and an immediate title fight. It breathed new life into the conversation when Ngannu beat Stipe Miocic to become the champion at UFC 260.
White openly doubted if Jones really wanted to fight Ngannu, while Jones made it clear that his reservations about participating in the fight were strictly financial. Jones said offers in the “$ 8-10 million range” were not enough to fight Ngannu, and Jones’ coach Mike Winkeljon went as far as saying Jones could be worth up to $ 50 million in this scenario.
While main heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis is waiting in the wings – and holds on to a past decision win over Ngannou – White is not worried about how long it will take to negotiate with Jones.
“What we do is that every Saturday night I get into fights, and whoever wants to fight, we will succeed and put them there,” White said. “We tried to work with John, and in the end we need to move on. Because in fact, to be honest, Derrick Lewis is a guy who deserves a fight. Derrick Lewis is a heavyweight, he beat Francis Nganna, he looked good in the last two fights, I think he is in the top three. He deserves a fight, so this is a fight that needs to happen, we’ll just roll and do what we do.
“When John is ready, he will let us know.”
Jones has been one of the most dominant UFC fighters since debuting in the promotion in 2008 and has been a reliable, albeit not impressive, pay-per-view rally. He has repeatedly stated his desire to receive more compensation, even hinting at retirement last May as a protest.
He hasn’t fought since he successfully defended his light heavyweight title (which was later vacated) against Dominic Reyes at UFC 247 last February, and White is not surprised Jones is still holding his own. His team is already used to this scenario.
“It happens a lot,” White said. “What happens a lot in this sport is that these guys work under contract. They sign deals and then a fight breaks out, and they are like, “I don’t want to fight for this deal now. I want a new deal. Look, you want everyone to be happy. You cannot make everyone happy, but you want to make them as happy as possible. So we will try to come up with something, and if we can, then we will make and make a deal, and if we cannot, then we will not, and it will be up to him to decide whether he wants to fight again. “
Regarding the number Jones is looking for, White reiterated a previous statement that Jones was looking for numbers similar to the one heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder was paid for Tyson Fury’s rematch, a claim that Jones vehemently denies.
White admitted that the Ngannou vs. Jones match is the largest match that could be played outside of McGregor Anyone, but he has no plans to break the bank over it. He believes the current UFC model of paying top stars their contract wallet and a percentage of their pay-per-view profits is still the best way to do business.
“In his deal, he says he wants to guarantee $ 30 million,” White said. “It works in a way that all these guys share pay-per-view, so you just said yourself that you thought it was going to be a big battle. I agree with you and think it will be a big fight, well, he will share the profits from the fight. This is how it works. This is how you do business and don’t go broke, this is how it works. “