Jon Jones seems to think Francis Ngannou didn’t have the guts to fight him.
The two were in talks to meet in a highly anticipated UFC heavyweight title fight, but Ngannou left the promotion as a free agent in January after failing to come to terms on a new contract.
“Francis had the opportunity to face me, and he opted out of the opportunity,” Jones told RMC Sport. “If anyone should be criticized, it’s Francis Ngannou.
“If I’m correct, he was offered the biggest contract in heavyweight history. He had the opportunity to be a guy that dethroned me. He didn’t believe in himself. … He wasn’t willing to gamble on himself.”
With Ngannou out of the picture and the heavyweight belt up for grabs, Jones is scheduled to face Ciryl Gane for the vacant title at UFC 285 on March 4 in Las Vegas.
The former light heavyweight champion said he “felt bad for the fans” after the fight didn’t come to fruition, adding that Ngannou is to blame.
“I don’t think I deserve any criticism,” Jones said. “I’m here.”
Jones’ latest comments are a bizarre shift from what he said about Ngannou last month.
Days after Ngannou’s unprecedented split with the UFC, Jones said he was happy for him and that “no man has a right to shame another man for fighting for his worth.”
Talks of a potential Ngannou-Jones fight date back to the first half of 2020, but Jones remained on the sidelines because he was at odds with the UFC over his pay. In 2021, Jones said $8-10 million would be “way too low” to fight Ngannou.
Jones reiterated in the RMC Sport interview that he could see a fight with Ngannou materializing down the road. The 35-year-old said that “The Predator” crossing over to boxing before eventually returning to the UFC is not out of the question.
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