When Francis Ngannou defeated Stipe Miocic to become UFC heavyweight champion, the world immediately began getting excited about Jon Jones being his first challenger.
Jones is arguably the greatest UFC fighter of all-time and having made his intentions to fight at heavyweight clear when he vacated his 205lb title, UFC president Dana White had already stated Jones would get a title shot in his heavyweight debut.
But plans for that fight went south and fast. When Jones insisted he wanted a career payday, White baulked at his demands and Derrick Lewis quickly became the frontrunner.
Speaking to TMZ, White says he has moved on from Jones challenging Ngannou completely.
“Yeah, I’ve absolutely moved on,” White said.
“Listen, I put on fights every Saturday. We have a window where we try to build some fights and make some things happen. If the fights don’t happen within that window, we move on, and realistically, I mean I’ve been saying it since the beginning, Derrick Lewis is the guy who should be getting the title shots.
“He beat Francis Ngannou. He’s next in line, he’s coming off of great performances and that’s a wrap. We’re moving on.”
As White says, Lewis is a deserving challenger, but he doesn’t carry the same intrigue that Jones facing Ngannou would. Presumably, that fight won’t draw like it would with Jones in it either.
So, is Bones out of the picture entirely? Is his run in UFC in danger?
“That’s up to Jon,” White said. “He could absolutely fight again at 205 lbs. He said he wouldn’t fight [Stipe Miocic] and now Derrick and Francis are fighting so we’ll see how that fight plays out.”
Lewis and Ngannou are set to meet in late August, according to White, and if Jones does walk away, he’d have no shame.
“There’s nothing wrong with going out on top either – Jon Jones is undefeated, he’s never been beat,” he continued.
“For those people that don’t know, you see that 1 loss on his record, he didn’t lose that fight he won that fight in dominant fashion like most of his fights.
“It was a time when the Nevada Athletic Commission was at its weakest and there was a referee that shouldn’t have been in there and he stole that fight from Jon Jones. So, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for him to go out on top.”
White has tried to get that DQ loss off of Jones’ record for years now but it seems like it won’t happen.
One thing that history does tell us is that most people who try and go against White in search of more money rarely come out the victor. It would be a shame if Jones’ heavyweight run never happens because of that.