KEY POINTS

  • Jon Jones is likely the next challenger to new UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou
  • Many are skeptical if Jones can compete with the top contenders in the heavyweight division 
  • Most experts seem to be fine that Jones will get to face Ngannou in his heavyweight debut

Francis Ngannou needed just five minutes and 50 seconds to dispose of Stipe Miocic in their heavyweight championship at UFC 260 in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday. 

Now, Ngannou is the king of the promotion’s heavyweight division and hailed as "The Baddest Man On The Planet," but he’s already got some very stiff competition raring to take his crown. 

While No. 2-ranked heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis is probably more deserving of the next title shot given that he’s on a four-fight winning streak and actually has a victory over reigning champion, perhaps the bigger name to match up with Ngannou is former longtime UFC light heavyweight titlist Jon Jones. 

Immediately after Ngannou’s win, Jones made it known that he was ready for his heavyweight debut. 

Sure, Jones is the best 205-pounder that the UFC has ever seen, and he’s even considered by many as the greatest fighter that the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) has ever seen, but if he does get the Ngannou fight, he’ll be stepping into uncharted territory. 

If Jones does get the offer to challenge Ngannou for the gold-plated belt, here are five things that he’ll need to take into consideration.

1. Francis Ngannou’s Maturity

As he’s shown throughout his career, Ngannou has dynamite in his fists and can knock anyone clean out with just one punch.

Earlier in his career, Ngannou got by just fine with throwing bombs until he got acquainted with his limit. In his losses to Miocic and Lewis, he found out the hard way that sometimes, swinging for the fences right off the bat doesn’t work. 

In the rematch against Miocic at UFC 260, Ngannou showed incredible patience and maturity as he was able to pick his spots and even stuff a Miocic takedown--something that not a lot of people can do.

When the time was right, he unloaded a short counterpunch that immediately separated Miocic from his senses. 

Obviously, Ngannou is still the hardest hitter in the division, but what makes it scarier is that he’s now a smarter fighter. 


2. Has Heavyweight Jon Jones Lost Some Pep In His Step?

While Jones possesses the otherworldly size and reach advantage in the light heavyweight division, perhaps his biggest strength at 205 pounds was his athleticism.

Jones has been known as long and lanky for most of his career but has since bulked up as he began his transition to heavyweight. 

Now, Jones says he’s walking around at 245 pounds, but has that become detrimental to his movement? 

“Bones” recently posted a video of himself hitting the mitts, and he looked quite slow and flat-footed. 

Sure, maybe Jones isn’t going at full-speed in a training session, but it would not be surprising if he actually did slow down significantly, especially since he’ll be weighing 40 pounds heavier than he usually does at weigh-ins. 

Jon Jones Jon Jones at 240-pounds Photo: @JonnyBones on Twitter


3. Can Jon Jones Withstand The Heavyweight Division’s Hardest Hitters? 

Apart from being a little bit slower, Jones will actually likely give up a lot of size and power to the true heavyweights that he’ll be facing. 

At 205 pounds, Jones was usually the bigger man, and at times even the stronger one. This won’t be the case all too often when he starts sharing the cage with guys that actually need to cut to get down to 265. 

Jones has also shown that he can take punches from light heavyweights, but it’s a different story when you have guys like Ngannou, Lewis, and even Jairzinho Rozenstruik looking to take your head off. 

In his last two outings, Jones got touched up by Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos. While those two are indeed heavy hitters, they’re nothing compared to the power that the big boys in the heavyweight pack. 


4. Francis Ngannou’s Confidence Is At An All-Time High

Francis Ngannou needed just a little over a round to demolish Miocic, who was widely regarded as the best heavyweight ever in the UFC. 

Apart from that, he also exorcised the demons of his previous loss to Miocic, meaning that he’s probably feeling pretty darn good about himself these days. 

Given his ability to put anyone to sleep with just one touch, Ngannou is already a terrifying man as it is. Add the maturity and sense of confidence and you have what appears to be an unbeatable champion. 

Jones, to his credit, has always risen to the occasion, and if he can weather and survive Ngannou, he likely becomes the "G.O.A.T." in the minds of many. 


5. Should Jon Jones Really Get Thrown Into The Fire Immediately?

If there’s anyone that deserves immediate title shots, it’s probably Jones. The man is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC today, and he’s been the most dominant champion that the organization has ever seen. 

When it was mentioned that Jones would likely get the first crack at the winner of Ngannou vs. Miocic, there wasn’t much uproar, likely due to respect for his accomplishments. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, when Israel Adesanya got the first shot at Jan Blachowicz’s UFC light heavyweight championship, there were a lot of questions asked. 

Speaking of the Adesanya-Blachowicz fight, that was a perfect example of how different weight divisions pose different challenges.

Adesanya was looking like a world-beater at 185 pounds, but he was stifled by a bigger and stronger man at 205 pounds. The same could happen to Jones at heavyweight.