The heavyweight division of the UFC is in an excited state of uncertainty. Recently, exchanges on social media between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou have led to speculations that a superfight between the two may be coming our way. Though ‘Bones’ voiced frustration at the UFC’s refusal to value his move to heavyweight in terms of dollars and cents, the opening of betting lines for the matchup has injected further interest into the potential fight.
Early odds from BetOnline.Ag had Jones (+130) slated as the underdog, with Francis Ngannou (-150) as the reported favourite. This has raised some eyebrows given that ‘Bones’ has never lost (not counting his disqualification to Mark Hamill ten years ago) and is widely regarded as the sport’s pound for pound greatest fighter.
However, Ngannou has been on a tear in his last four fights with consecutive first round stoppages. In vicious displays of power (if not technique), he’s knocked out Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Curtis Blaydes. Thus, while it seems slightly askew to rank the pound for pound G.O.A.T. as an underdog, it is in keeping with ‘The Predator’s’ trajectory.
The fight has huge implications for the UFC heavyweight division, which has been in lockdown for longer than the COVID-19 crisis. A trilogy fight between undisputed champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier promises to settle the question of a rubber match between the division’s top two fighters. However, the champion has reportedly been frustrated with the criticism he’s received for putting his job as a first responder, ahead of the trilogy bout during the pandemic.
Also waiting in the wings is fan favourite and striking phenom, Alistair Overeem. Though he suffered one of the most devastating knockouts in the sport’s history to Ngannou in 2017, a stoppage performance over Walt Harris on the 16th of May has put ‘The Reem’ back in conversation for a final heavyweight title shot.
Whether or not Jones and Ngannou eventually face off in a superfight remains to be seen, as does the question of whether or not this will have title implications (interim or otherwise). Further, the rubber-match between DC and Miocic will probably pan out in a way that heavily impacts the likelihood of a ‘Bones vs Predator’ superfight.
Will we see Jon Jones vs Francis Ngannou? And if so, who ought to be the favourite?