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Francis Ngannou edges closer to Jon Jones fight the following year in limbo which started with Dana White seemingly refusing to give him the heavyweight title at UFC 270 and included contract drama and a crossover talk from Tyson Fury


Francis Ngannou is set to make a triumphant return to the octagon after spending most of 2022 in limbo following a fallout with the UFC brass.

The heavyweight champion kicked off his year with a bang by unifying the division with an impressive win over interim titleholder Ciryl Gane on January 23.

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Ngannou started the year solidifying his position as heavyweight king

Ngannou showed off his steadily improving wrestling in the bout which was technically the last of his current contract with MMA’s premier promotion.

Normally UFC President Dana White wraps the title around the winner of a title fight and he did that earlier in the evening when Deiveson Figueiredo beat Brandon Moreno for the UFC flyweight crown. ‘UFC.

However, he did not present the undisputed heavyweight title to Ngannou. Mick Maynard, vice president of talent relations for the UFC, was the man who instead wrapped the belt around Ngannou.

Many thought White was annoyed that Ngannou remained his heavyweight champion as they were in the midst of a heated contract battle that still rages today.

The UFC boss quickly shut down the rumors pretty quickly.

White told Laura Sanko, “I actually walked out of the arena right after the co-main event because there were things going on that I was dealing with.

Dana White went AWOL after UFC 270 main event

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Dana White went AWOL after UFC 270 main event

Ngannou was forced to answer questions about why the UFC boss didn't hand him the undisputed title

GETTY

Ngannou was forced to answer questions about why the UFC boss didn’t hand him the undisputed title


“For anyone to think I was showing disrespect to Francis, I’ve been seeing Francis all week, you idiots. I shook his hand. I said hello to him. I was there for the prying eyes, all that.

Despite the fact that his contract technically expired after UFC 270, Ngannou remains tied to the promotion until the end of 2022 due to a “championship clause”.

The 36-year-old announced his intention to sit out for the rest of the year after undergoing surgery on a persistent knee problem which he wanted to resolve while his management worked on a new contract.

In April, his relationship with the UFC appeared to be very strained when he jumped into the ring with WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to talk about a potential crossover fight.

Ngannou has expressed his desire to box The Gypsy King, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder and wants it written in his contract that the UFC will help him make such fights.

This has proven to be a stumbling block in negotiations which continue to rumble as we head into the new year, but appear to be going somewhere based on White’s most recent comments.

The UFC champion seemed destined for a fight with Tyson Fury

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The UFC champion seemed destined for a fight with Tyson Fury

But now it looks like Jon Jones will be next

@jonnybones (Instagram)

But now it looks like Jon Jones will be next

The UFC boss told ESPN earlier this month: “I think we’re going in the right direction with Francis.

“There’s no question that’s where Francis should be, and Francis should finish his legacy here in the UFC. I think we’re close to doing that.

If Ngannou decides to stay with the UFC, fans can expect an epic fight with former light heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer Jon Jones.

‘Bones’ hasn’t fought since February 2020, when he beat Dominick Reyes by decision to defend his 205lb belt which he relinquished shortly after to pursue a career at heavyweight.

However, the swelling process and his own contract dispute with the UFC have sidelined him ever since, but he is not ready to return to action.

MMA Junkie recently announced that Jones will return at UFC 285 on March 5 in Las Vegas and that Ngannou could well be his opponent if all continues to go in the right direction with his contract talks.



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