Francis Ngannou’s departure from the UFC was not done in order to avoid having to face Jon Jones, according to Daniel Cormier.
When UFC president Dana White said on Saturday that heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (17-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) had lost his championship and was leaving the organisation because they couldn’t agree on a new contract, the heavyweight division underwent a significant shakeup.
Ngannou wasn’t particularly interested in sparring with Jones and wanted to compete against “lesser competition for more money,” according to White. Jones’ two previous opponents and fellow UFC Hall of Famer Cormier doesn’t agree with that idea and applauded Ngannou for being given the choice to decide what to do with his future in the sport.
Cormier: Ngannou didn’t avoid Jon Jones
Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) will now meet Ciryl Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in the main event of UFC 285 on March 4 in Las Vegas because Ngannou left and the championship became vacant as a result. Whoever wins that fight, though, is facing a difficult battle with the public’s image, according to Cormier.
“Isn’t it ironic that Jon Jones is fighting for a vacant championship? Do you guys remember what I went through when I won the (vacant) belt?” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “Now it’s different. Jon hasn’t fought Francis before, but isn’t it ironic that he’s in this situation now? My advice to you, Jon, is get thick skin, because people will be unrelenting. Right now, because Francis left, it’s almost like Francis avoided Jones. That’s not true.
“Francis would’ve fought Jon Jones on any day of the week. Let’s not get crazy, fans. Fans always come up with these ideas, but trust me: Jones, it’s going to flip to, ‘Is he the real champion, because he didn’t beat Francis Ngannou?’ if he wins that fight against Ciryl Gane. Which is not guaranteed, because Ciryl Gane is as good as they come.”
Regardless of politics, Cormier expressed excitement for the fight between Jones and Gane. Jones will compete for the first time in 37 months, while Gane has recently shown himself to be a great fighter.
At UFC 285, Cormier said he plans to provide commentary and is excited to see how the two skill sets mesh.