Francis Who? Jon Jones’ Latest Win Erases Francis Ngannou From the Memory of Fans

J.T. Miller
4 min readMar 8, 2023
(AP Photo/David Becker)

UFC 285 was a complete success on all fronts — especially if you’re UFC president, Dana White. Not only did you have amazing performances from Bo Nickel and Shavkat Rakhmonov — you also had a historic upset to crown a new flyweight champion in the women’s division by having Alexa Grasso defeat Valentina Shevchenko.

But the ultimate cherry on top was Jon Jones returning to the UFC after a 3-year layoff. He moved up a division and won the heavyweight title on his first night back. Not only that, he did it in incredible fashion — taking no damage and submitting Ciryl Gane 2 minutes into the fight.

It was so spectacular, that it left many forgetting that there was a reason why Jones and Gane were fighting for a vacant championship. Francis Ngannou, the former heavyweight champion, couldn’t come to a contract agreement with the UFC and was released, thus freeing up the heavyweight title.

Francis Ngannou

Ngannou was a nice story and had impressive performances, but he never truly connected with the fans. The reason Dana White and the UFC didn’t mind him leaving the company was that he was never a draw. None of his pay-per-views did any significant numbers. The UFC is a business at the end of the day and they’re not going to pay Ngannou an outrageous contract when he doesn’t produce the PPV buys needed to justify it.

Jon Jones on the other hand is the most intriguing guy in all of combat sports. He was the youngest UFC champion of all time, winning the light heavyweight championship at age 23. He has natural gifts that made him a terrific fighter, which helped give him an undefeated record (his one loss is a disqualification and doesn’t count according to most). Yet, Jones was self-destructive with his success and fame — getting into trouble with the law one too many times that kept him from fighting for many years.

Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)