Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Jon “Bones” Jones isn’t going to let his rival Francis Ngannou step into a new league quietly, as the MMA world currently continues to discuss the latter’s unprecedented new deal with the PFL.
In January, Ngannou was bounced from the UFC over a contract dispute and became a free agent. There were months of speculation about where Ngannou would land, and he eventually signed what looks to be a lucrative deal with PFL.
And it’s not just money. The deal includes equity in the company, a seat on their Fighter Advocacy Board, and even the chairmanship of PFL Africa. This way, the PFL gets not only Ngannou the fighter, but they also get him and his personal brand as a business partner.
According to PFL CEO Peter Murray:
“The PFL is excited to announce its groundbreaking strategic partnership with Francis Ngannou, the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter in the world. Ngannou will anchor the PFL’s star-studded PPV Super Fight Division, serve on PFL’s Global Athlete Advisory Board, and will be Chairman and an equity owner in PFL Africa. Beyond working with Francis to advance the sport of MMA and scale PFL globally, I’m personally looking forward to supporting Francis in his commitment to fighting for communities in Africa and around the world, inspired by his vision for the Francis Ngannou Foundation.”
— PFL (@PFLMMA) May 16, 2023
It didn’t take too long for something to ignite between Ngannou and Jones. In the video announcement of Ngannou’s PFL signing, he called himself the “baddest” fighter on the planet, and obviously Jones took issue with that, accusing Ngannou of speaking from “across the street.”
Ngannou replied to Jones, telling him to “cross the street,” as in leave the UFC and sign to fight the former heavyweight title holder again, this time over at the PFL.
Jones then took it up a notch, saying, “My man wins one Super Bowl, transferred to a top arena football league, and then claims to be better than Brady. That’s what I’m hearing right now.”
A fan responded on Twitter, stating “He’s [Ngannou] sure doing a lot of talking now that the two of you can’t fight.”
“You notice that!” Jones replied back. “Wasn’t calling himself the baddest when he was still a free agent. He signed safely behind a new organization, and now suddenly the baddest thing walking. Like we haven’t all seen him quitting inside that cage before.”
Ngannou has gone on the record saying that he regretted not getting the opportunity for a proper face-off with Jones, saying so during an interview with ESPN’s “DC & RC” after the PFL announcement.
“I will always have a regret of not fighting Jon Jones,” he said. “I think you know, being in the sport, being in this position, what you want to do is test yourself against somebody like Jon Jones, who stands as a GOAT of the sport.”
The opportunity seems unlikely since the UFC has a pretty clear policy against cross-promotion events with competitor leagues.
“It’s like back in the day, everybody has to fight — when you’re the guy, it’s good to fight Fedor because he was out there doing his thing, and he was the guy and you couldn’t argue that. I think it’s the same thing right now. And I think it goes both ways, even for Jon Jones. Even for Jon Jones, this was a good fight to make a statement.”
For what it’s worth, UFC President Dana White sides with Jones, saying Ngannou would get whooped like Ciryl Gane just did in March:
Do you ever think one day in the future we’ll ever get to see Ngannou vs Jones? Let us know how you think that’ll happen in the comments below and across social media.