Dana White reflects on Francis Ngannou’s UFC departure: He ‘didn’t want to fight Jon Jones’

UFC CEO Dana White is still adamant the promotion did everything in its power to keep Francis Ngannou on the roster, so he has no regrets about his departure.

Ngannou (17-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) made a rare move in early 2023 when, as reigning UFC heavyweight champion, he parted ways with company after completing the terms of his contract. It was a dramatic situation that dragged on for months, with Ngannou going from the feared king of the mountain in the octagon to having freedom to pick his own path forward.

The UFC allegedly offered Ngannou the biggest contract for any heavyweight in history, but it wasn’t enough. Ngannou had a plethora of issues with his UFC situation and certain demands to stick around, and ultimately terms couldn’t be reached for a highly-anticipated super fight with Jon Jones.

Despite stating in April 2021 that Jones was pricing himself out of the matchup with a $30 million demand, White now claims Ngannou never wanted the fight.

“He went through Ciryl Gane like that – easily,” White said on the “Club Shay Shay” podcast with Shannon Sharpe. “In my opinion, he does the same thing to Francis. 100 percent. He does the same thing to Francis. Francis didn’t want to fight Jon Jones. Jon Jones is the scariest, most bad-ass fighter of all time. Jon Jones has his issues outside of the octagon, which actually makes it more impressive if you think about the lifestyle that he was living, and doing this to the best fighters in the world.

“Jon Jones is one of those guys that won’t truly be appreciated until he’s gone. But I’m telling you right now, when you talk about who the baddest man on the planet is – two guys get locked in a room, who is walking out? It’s f*cking Jon Jones all day, every time.”

It’s hard to put credence behind White’s claims when, in the aftermath of his UFC exit, Ngannou walked into boxing matches with Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. He was highly competitive in the former and got knocked out in the latter, but he went head-on into the risky.

After Ngannou moved on, Jones returned from a three-year layoff and claimed the vacant belt against Gane at UFC 285. It was his heavyweight debut, but years prior when Ngannou claimed the belt against Stipe Miocic, White actually advised Jones to backtrack on a change in divisions.

“If I’m Jon Jones and I’m at home watching this fight, I’m moving down to 185,” White said in March 2021.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie