Rumors are stirring that Francis Ngannou left the UFC to avoid Jon Jones – a narrative that was fueled by White’s explanation that implied that Ngannou wants to fight “lesser opponents.”
But Daniel Cormier says that’s just “not true.”
“Isn’t it ironic that Jon Jones is fighting for a vacant championship? Do you guys remember what I went through when I won the (vacant) belt?” Cormier said on his YouTube channel.
“Now it’s different. Jon hasn’t fought Francis before, but isn’t it ironic that he’s in this situation now? My advice to you, Jon, is get thick skin, because people will be unrelenting. Right now, because Francis left, it’s almost like Francis avoided Jones. That’s not true.
“Francis would’ve fought Jon Jones on any day of the week. Let’s not get crazy, fans. Fans always come up with these ideas, but trust me: Jones, it’s going to flip to, ‘Is he the real champion, because he didn’t beat Francis Ngannou?’ if he wins that fight against Ciryl Gane. Which is not guaranteed, because Ciryl Gane is as good as they come.”
On Saturday, White announced that the promotion was parting ways with heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou after failing to strike a deal. As a result, he was also stripped of his title, which he defended once against Ciryl Gane back in January 2022.
White followed up with the announcement of former light heavyweight champion, Jones’, return and heavyweight debut, which will be against Gane in a fight for the now-vacant title.
Cormier, a UFC Hall of Famer and two-time opponent of Jones, said that he intends to be on the commentary team for UFC 285, when Jones and Gane meet in the octagon.
Ngannou’s departure sent shockwaves throughout the MMA community, but former UFC fighter and current Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg jokingly congratulated him.
“Congrats @francis_ngannou on making it to “the list”
— CrisCyborg.Com (@criscyborg) January 17, 2023
On “The MMA Hour,” Ngannou explained that he just wants “freedom.”