When Francis Ngannou starched Jairzinho Rozenstruik in 20 seconds at UFC 249 over the weekend, it left fight fans wondering who might be next for the intimidating heavyweight star.
Well, it appears reigning light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones is interested in being Ngannou’s next challenge after the sport’s pound-for-pound king said Thursday he’s ready for a “big money fight” with the Cameroonian knockout artist.
Ngannou, a winner of four straight fights by first-round knockout, has positioned himself to fight for the UFC’s heavyweight title, but all signs point to champion Stipe Miocic defending his belt in a trilogy match against former titleholder Daniel Cormier later this year. This would keep Ngannou sidelined for perhaps the remainder of 2020.
Jones has never been defeated in his 12-year mixed martial arts career and has mulled a move up to heavyweight after essentially clearing out two generations of contenders in the 205-pound division.
Earlier this week, he even tweeted he’d love to have a catchweight fight before an official move up to heavyweight.
Jones was active on Twitter during UFC 249 and again on Wednesday night while watching a UFC Fight Night event headlined by past opponents Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. Jones won a unanimous decision over Smith in March of 2019 and swept the scorecards against Teixeira back in 2014.
Wednesday’s co-main event saw another one of Jones’s previous victims, Ovince Saint Preux, make his heavyweight debut. Saint Preux lost an entertaining split decision to veteran Ben Rothwell, who has wins over many of the division’s best fighters.
Jones used Saint Preux’s performance to gauge how he might fare against bigger competition.
Man it was weird seeing OSP fight at heavyweight, made it seem so much more real for me. Especially knowing he was at 240lbs. With a little more cardio, he would’ve been I was visualizing myself as him that whole fight
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 14, 2020
This got a response from Ngannou which led to an exchange in which Jones insinuated his speed would be the difference against true heavyweights.
Jones has gone the distance in his past three outings and although he went 3-0, his victories weren’t nearly as convincing as many of his previous wins – in fact his win over Thiago Santos last July was a split decision and his win over Dominick Reyes in February was a controversial one in which many thought Reyes deserved to have his hand raised.
On Thursday, Jones threw a bit of shade at Ngannou when he suggested Santos is a quicker and more technical striker than Ngannou.
Ngannou accepted Jones’s perceived challenge shortly thereafter.
If you think you can handle my technique level that’s fine but I agree with you that you don’t have anything to prove in LHW division and that this should be for bags https://t.co/PtD04F3aSl
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) May 14, 2020
If Jones were to stay at 205 pounds, which he has routinely made without difficulty throughout his career, the top-ranked contenders in the division are currently Reyes, Santos and Poland’s Jan Blachowicz.