UFC Preview: Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou

Story posted March 30, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew McLaughlin

This past Saturday, UFC 260 captured the spotlight as Dana White and co. put on another fantastic pay-per-view event, headlined by a heavyweight title bout between challenger Francis Ngannou (16-2 with nine knockouts entering Saturday’s matinee) and reigning champion Stipe Miocic (20-3 with 15 knockouts entering Saturday).

After losing to Miocic three years earlier, Ngannou responded to critics of his takedown, halting Miocic’s attempts to take the fight to the mat.

The result? One of the gnarliest knockouts in UFC history.

No seriously, look at how Ngannou folds Miocic in half.

Immediately after the bout, Twitter was rampant with a heavyweight title bout between Ngannou and the legendary Jon Jones, who would have to move up in weight class to contend for the title belt.

While there are still logistics to be figured out, that doesn’t mean there can’t be some good ol’ fashioned hypothetical prediction! After all, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan nearly played one-on-one.

Starting with basic measurements, both fighters stand at 6’ 4” but Ngannou holds the weight advantage, weighing at 263 pounds compared to Jones at 203.

Now, it is important to note Jones would have to gain at least two pounds to meet heavyweight minimums, but to compete with the heavy Ngannou, Jones would likely pack on more pounds. For sake of argument, let’s assume Jones wants to use his speed and will only meet the minimum at 205 pounds.

Surprisingly, Jones edges out Ngannou in reach (84 ½” to 83”), which will lay the foundation for how Jones will approach this hypothetical battle. Instead of meeting Ngannou punch-for-punch, Jones can take the cerebral approach by biting his time and becoming more defensive.

In the other hypothetical corner, Ngannou looks like the most terrifying fighter to face in the UFC at this moment. Former heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier phrased it beautifully on the broadcast, “This is the Mike Tyson effect,” and he is completely correct.

This resounding victory catapulted Ngannou to a completely different stratosphere, which in turn, makes Ngannou one of the few entities (*cough* PEDs *cough* *cough*) that can stop Jones.

Now, there are two opposite questions for each fighter: First, what happens for Ngannou if this fight goes five rounds? Second, what happens for Jones if he gets in trouble early?

Regarding Ngannou, each of his last five (!!!) fights have ended in a knockout and his only fight of those five to go past the first round was the aforementioned victory against Miocic.

As for Jones, his last nine contests have gone three rounds or longer, with his last three fights going the full five rounds.

Now, these two fighters are completely different in styles. To compare these fighters to NBA players, think of Ngannou as New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, a massive freak of nature who can dominate the contest at his will. On the other hand, Jones is similar to Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, a lanky, clever athlete that utilizes his skill and IQ to pick his spots at the right time.

This victory against Miocic proved that Ngannou can defend takedowns and isn’t just the big man throwing sledgehammers with no defense. Ngannou knows that this fight will be the biggest of his career and this victory against Miocic proves that he’s taken a huge step in rounding out his game.

However Ngannou will throw those hammers for fists, but if Jones sustains that early wave, the tide of the match will quickly turn in his favor. Over the course of five full rounds, Jones has the stamina and defense to absorb Ngannou’s heavy shots.

This will be one of the biggest events in UFC history and in the brightest lights, Jones’ experience and hunger to get back on top of the UFC will win out.

Prediction: Jones def. Ngannou in 5 rounds by Unanimous Decision

Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mem6936@psu.edu.