Whether reluctantly or not, former undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has labelled current division titleholder, Jon Jones as the greatest fighter to ever compete in mixed martial arts – amid their long-standing rivalry.
Ngannou, a former undisputed heavyweight champion under the banner of the UFC, has been sidelined from mixed martial arts competition since he headlined UFC 270 back in January of last year, successfully unifying the titles in a win over recent UFC Paris headliner, Ciryl Gane.
As for Jones, the Endicott native headlined UFC 285 in his first Octagon walk in over three years back in March of this annum, clinching heavyweight gold vacated by Ngannou, in his own first round guillotine choke win over common-foe, Gane.
Slated to make his return to combat sports next month, Batié knockout star, Ngannou headlines a professional boxing card in Saudi Arabia, taking on incumbent WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury in a non-title bout over the course of 10 rounds.
Francis Ngannou heaps praise on UFC rival, Jon Jones
And ahead of the bout, Ngannou, who has taken coaching advice from renowned former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, described his long-time enemy, Jones as the greatest competitor to ever grace mixed martial arts.
“There’s a lot of great ones coming up,” Francis Ngannou told COMPLEX during a recent interview. “New guys. I have to go with Jon Jones [as the GOAT] because of all the adversity and all he went through and he still managed to become champ.”
“As long as I want to fight Jon Jones I still think he will be my GOAT MMA fighter,” Francis Ngannou explained. “Because he’s just so good.”
Failing to ever settle his rivalry with Cameroonian knockout artist, Ngannou during their respective Octagon tenures, Jones recently made the claim that whilst preparing for his return to the UFC, he was returning with the hope of fighting the former champion.
“The narrative switched somehow and everyone is saying that I waited three years and I came back exactly when Francis (Ngannou) was gone,” Jon Jones explained. “That’s actually not true. When I got back, Francis was very much on the roster still and I could have been his last fight, but instead, he opted out and Ciryl Gane took Francis’ spot. I came back ready for Francis Ngannou, for sure. I’m not going to lie though, knowing I was fighting Ciryl Gane instead of Francis was kind of nice.”