UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou said he would like to fight twice more this year, and while he’s not sure what’s going on between the UFC and Jon Jones, he said he wants Jones first and then a rematch with Derrick Lewis.
Ngannou dethroned Stipe Miocic, who’s considered the greatest heavyweight in MMA history, at UFC 260 on Saturday. And now Ngannou has his sights set on Jones, considered the greatest pound-for-pound MMA fighter of all time.
But Jones and the UFC have engaged in a bitter contract negotiation over social media. At one point, Jones asked for his release from the UFC, but he later deleted the tweet.
“I don’t know what exactly happened between Jon Jones and the UFC, but I think there’s something wrong, and I also think he handled it maybe a little in the wrong way,” Ngannou said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, which aired Wednesday. “Listen, that’s not my business.
“There’s a lot of contenders ready to fight. For the first time, I’m the man who’s making the call. I don’t have to sit down and wait for people. They’re waiting for me, and I’m ready. I can choose to fight, and I want to fight maybe two [more] times this year. I hope that [Jones] fight happens.”
Ngannou mentioned August and December as possibilities for his next two fights.
While UFC president Dana White implied during his post-fight news conference Saturday night that Jones might be afraid to fight Ngannou, Ngannou viewed the situation differently.
“I think he wants to do some challenge, but I think he’s at a point in his career where he wants his big payday,” Ngannou said. “Makes sense, you can’t argue with that. He did it, he deserves it. He’s the greatest pound-for-pound guy for so long, so you can’t deny anything in this sport to Jon Jones.”
If Jones and the UFC can’t come to financial terms, Ngannou’s first defense is expected to be against Lewis. The two first fought on July 7, 2018, and it’s considered one of the worst heavyweight main events in UFC history. Lewis won by unanimous decision.
“I think we’ll have this fight that never really happened,” Ngannou said. “I will have to give the fans what they deserve.”
As far as whom he thinks he’ll fight next, Ngannou said, “I can’t really tell. You never know what’s going on with the UFC until it happens. Just let it happen randomly. Whatever happens, I’m down for.”
And don’t expect contract negotiations to get in the way of Ngannou.
“I want to get paid more, if that’s the question. I think everybody wants to get paid more,” he said. “I want good terms for that fight, in my favor, at least with more benefit.
“But listen, I’m under contract, I have to fight. I think the best is yet to come.”