Jon Jones is happy for Francis Ngannou.
At least, he is, if his initial reaction is to be believed.
Jones made his first comments on Monday about Ngannou’s impressive professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury, which shocked the martial arts world last weekend.
“I thought he had a great performance. I’m glad the match was competitive. It opens a lot of doors for everyone in the future.” Jones wrote on social media. Responded to fans questioning the lack of reaction to the Fury vs. Ngannou fight.
Ngannou, 37, pushed Fury to the limit despite coming in as an underclassman and came close to becoming the first man to defeat boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion in the ring. “The Predator” knocked Fury down in the third round, inflicting a cut on his forehead, and ultimately narrowly lost in a controversial split decision.
Ngannou and Jones have been flirting with each other over a potential fight for more than two years, with their rivalry dating back to March 2021, when Ngannou defeated Stipe Miocic to win the title. Ngannou parted ways with the UFC in January of this year, ending his promotional career. As a champion, he took unprecedented action to pursue other opportunities. Jones made his long-awaited debut in the UFC heavyweight division soon after, winning the promotion’s vacant title with a one-round victory over Cyril Gane in March of this year.
Jones and Ngannou made headlines when they finally met on the PFL’s fifth card in Atlanta in June of this year. Although that exchange was mostly friendly, both big men have continued to snipe each other from afar ever since. In the aftermath of the Fury fight, Ngannou mentioned Jones’ name again on social media.
Jones, 36, is currently recovering from a shoulder injury. As a result, he will not be able to face former champion Miocic in his scheduled title defense at UFC 295.
Jones, widely regarded as the best light heavyweight in MMA history, is expected to return in mid-2024 to defend his UFC heavyweight belt against Miocic.