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Jon Jones vs Francis Ngannou: Who would win?

When Jon Jones defeated Ciryl Gane by Round 1 submission at UFC 285 on 5th March 2023, Francis Ngannou, who had since left the UFC, posted a tweet:

“Good job Jonny boy 👍 Sincerely, The heavyweight king”

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is the current UFC Heavyweight Champion and is widely considered the MMA GOAT – the greatest of all time. But there is a lingering doubt. How would he have fared against Francis Ngannou?

Francis Ngannou tweet after Jon Jones win at UFC 285

In the post fight press conference UFC President Dana White said of Jones: “Not only is he the greatest light heavyweight ever, he looks like the greatest heavyweight ever too.” Jones’ talent is undeniable. No one ever enters the GOAT conversation without being truly elite at what you do. Dana White said that Francis Ngannou can’t even be compared to Jon Jones, but this comment needs to be taken with the understanding that White and Ngannou have had a very public falling out over UFC contract terms.

While most UFC fans would accept that Jones is more skilled, Francis has more power. And as the saying goes, it only takes one punch. Francis’ fight against Alistair Overeem is an eye-opening display of what happens when you get caught. But the focus on Francis’ knockout power likely doesn’t do justice to his technical skill. Following his loss to Stipe Miocic, Francis demonstrated an ability to learn from his mistakes and improve. The rematch resulted in a devastating Round 2 knockout of Stipe.

But of course power isn’t everything in MMA. One can’t ignore the ease with which Jon Jones was victorious against Cyril Gane. There were concerns about Jones’ new weight. He was looking chubbier and fans didn’t know what to expect after 3 years away from competition. Many people predicted a convincing Gane victory.

Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane predictions
Many people predicted Ciryl Gane would defeat Jon Jones

While Francis Ngannou’s fight with Ciryl Gane went the distance, Jon Jones looked like he didn’t even break a sweat. However Francis had torn his MCL and ACL a month prior to fighting Gane and still managed to outwrestle him.

Is it fair to call Jon Jones the heavyweight king if his fight against Ciryl Gane wasn’t a real test? Some would sat yes. The fact that it was easy is sufficient justification. But others aren’t so sure; they say Jones needs to face a proper test before he can take the title as the best heavyweight.

In comparing records, Jon Jones has the more impressive resume. Jones is essentially undefeated, with his only “loss” coming from a disqualification against Matt Hamill. Francis Ngannou, however, has 3 losses. Those who think Francis would be too much for Jones point out that Jones should have a loss on his record after his performance against Dominick Reyes. The result of that fight is overwhelmingly regarded as a robbery.

So where does this leave us?

Who would win in a dream match up between Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou? Dana White says it’ll never happen. In boxing, we never got to see Riddick Bowe vs Lennox Lewis, we didn’t get to see Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder when they were at their undefeated peaks, and we’re still wondering if we’ll ever see Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua. But Jones vs Ngannou is UFC, and one thing UFC has over boxing is that the fights fans want to see get made.

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