Francis Ngannou Targeting UFC Return vs. Jon Jones Early 2023

Francis Ngannou, UFC

Getty Champion Francis Ngannou takes questions in the press room.

UFC superstar Francis Ngannou will likely not mark his return to action this year, as per his head coach Eric Nicksick.

The reigning UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou is coming off a successful title defense against the former interim title holder Ciryl Game in Jan. at UFC 270. Ngannou, a deadly striker renowned for his knockout power, showcased his grappling abilities in one of his most unique victories to date. He later revealed that he went into the bout with an injured knee, suffering a torn MCL and damaged ACL in training while preparing for the fight.

“The Predator” needed to undergo surgery and was expected to sit out for an extended period of time. While in recovery, there was speculation that Ngannou might be ready to come back to the octagon by the end of the year.

Coach Nicksick of Xtreme Couture MMA gym in Las Vegas, who trains Ngannou, ruled out a return this year. He expects Ngannou would need another five or six months before he is fully fit to fight again.

“I don’t think December is going to be a realistic timeline with where he’s at with the rehab. I think it’s only been five months because he had the surgery in March, so October would be six months for him,” Nicksick said via MMA Fighting. “With that type of injury, that type of surgery, I think December’s [making] it a little close, to be honest with you.

“But you never know with this guy, he might just come right back and be ready to go, and you never know what the UFC is going to be putting on our plate, either.”

Nicksick Shared They Want To Fight Jon Jones in Early 2023

Widely regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, former UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones has kept on the sidelines for over two and a half years in preparations to move up to the heavyweight division. When Jones announced his decision to embark on the new quest, he got linked to a megafight with Ngannou.

Jones needed time to pack on the pounds and the contractual disputes with the promotion regarding both athletes delayed the showdown.

According to Nicksick, Ngannou wants the matchup with Jones and believes it would be the ideal return early next year.

“The fight that makes the most sense is obviously Jon Jones,” Nicksick said. “That’s the fight we all want. The way I look at it is, Jon Jones has been out for two and a half years. If we can’t do it in December, and depending on the way the UFC schedule plays out, maybe [it can happen] in January or February, somewhere in that timeline.”

A Trilogy Bout With Stipe Miocic Could Happen

Ngannou became the undisputed champion by dethroning the greatest heavyweight in the history of the promotion Stipe Miocic, who holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the weight class. Miocic got rumored to welcome Jones in his divisional debut for an interim title while Ngannou was in recovery.

Miocic defeated Ngannou in their first encounter in Jan. 2018 at UFC 220. With Ngannou leveling the score, a trilogy match could be on the horizon.

“Honestly, for me, I’d love the Stipe fight again, or the Jones fight, but if I had my choice between the two, obviously I want to compete against the best to ever do it, in my opinion, and that’s Jon Jones.”

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x