Coming off of his historic victory Saturday night at UFC 260, the new UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis N’Gannou has had to field various questions about his next opponent.
We have already laid out the likely scenario for N’Gannou in previous articles, but a brief recap would be Derrick Lewis now that he has defeated Curtis Blaydes, Ciryl Gane or Alexander Volkov with one more win, then some order of Stipe Miocic, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, or Cutis Blaydes depending on who can accumulate two more consecutive wins first. However, the major logjam of the division and the entire reason for this article is the Jon Jones factor.
As we and the rest of MMA media have discussed, the former Light Heavyweight Champion and arguably the greatest fighter of all time essentially gets to cut the line at Heavyweight and challenge for the title whenever he wants. With the recent news regarding Jones, however, we will have to see what the future holds at Heavyweight.
Coming less than a week after the title was defended, the MMA media already began discussing who will be next for N’Gannou. And while, through merit, Derrick Lewis should be next, UFC fans and media cannot help but ask if this is Jon Jones’ time.
On his personal Twitter account, however, Jones began to elaborate on the situation with the UFC. Jones has claimed that the UFC is reluctant to meet his financial demands for this fight, claiming that they have maxed out their offers somewhere between $8-10 million. Jones is looking for much more than that for this fight. To put that request in perspective, the disclosed payout for Francis N’Gannou for winning the Heavyweight Championship this weekend was $730,000 which includes his win bonus of $150,000. Jones is reportedly turning down offers to earn 10 times the amount the champion made in his title victory.
The reason Jones is reportedly uninterested in a purse less than the offered amount is that he believes he was underpaid for the majority of his career (Jones earned about $1 million per fight while champion) and also that this is a once in a lifetime bout that would garner enough attention to the sport and drum up enough revenue for the company that it would be well worth the investment in Jones. If the company is unwilling to meet Jones’ financial demands or if Jones does not lower his asking price, we are likely going to see this stalemate between the UFC and Jon Jones continue.
In the meantime, N’Gannou has already said that he wants to continue to fight. N’Gannou mentioned how frustrated he was about how the Daniel Cormier-Stipe Miocic trilogy held up the Heavyweight division and the championship for over a year and how he does not want the same to happen with him as champion. N’Gannou wants to fight and what better opponent than the last man to defeat him in Derrick Lewis. Lewis is on a four-fight winning streak and is undoubtedly the number one contender for the Heavyweight Championship.
Lewis also jokingly mentioned on Twitter how he would gladly take the fight with N’Gannou for eight million dollars.
With the UFC becoming more and more eager to announce planned cards and planned fights because of the return of fans to arenas, we will most likely be seeing an announcement about N’Gannou’s first challenger before the end of April. And because of this stalemate between Jon Jones and the UFC, we should expect the opponent to be Derrick Lewis.
However, the UFC has shocked us before and it would not surprise anyone if Jones was suddenly named as Francis N’Gannou’s next opponent.
Featured Image: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting