Or at least, he is if his initial reaction is to be believed.
Jones on Monday gave his first comments on Ngannou’s stunning professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury, which shook up the combat sports world this past weekend.
“I thought he did great, I’m glad the fight was competitive. Opens so many doors for everyone in the future,” Jones wrote on social media in response to a fan questioning his lack of a response to Fury vs. Ngannou.
Despite coming in as a heavy underdog, Ngannou, 37, pushed Fury to his limits and very nearly became the first man to defeat boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion in the ring. “The Predator” knocked Fury down in the third round, opened a cut on Fury’s forehead, and ultimately lost a controversial split decision by the narrowest of margins.
Ngannou and Jones have chirped back and forth at one another over a potential fight for more than two years, a rivalry that dates back to Ngannou’s title win over Stipe Miocic in March 2021. Ngannou parted ways with the UFC this past January, exiting the promotion as its champion in an unprecedented move in order to pursue other opportunities. Jones made his long-awaited debut in the UFC heavyweight division soon afterward, capturing the promotion’s vacant title this past March with a first-round win over Ciryl Gane.
Jones and Ngannou finally crossed paths this past June, coming face-to-face in a viral moment at the PFL 5 card in Atlanta. The interaction was mostly cordial, however both heavyweights have continued to snipe at one another from afar ever since. In the aftermath of the Fury fight, Ngannou again mentioned Jones’ name on social media.
Jones, 36, is currently recovering from a shoulder injury that removed him from his expected UFC 295 title defense against former champion Miocic.
Widely regarded as the greatest light heavyweight in MMA history, Jones is expected to return sometime in mid-2024 to defend his UFC heavyweight belt against Miocic.
I hate the hard times, hate adversity but love being a man that gets to represent tenacity and refusing to quit. I believe even my haters have a hard time not betting on me. I’m not a man to count out. Best days are still to come.
— BONY (@JonnyBones) October 30, 2023
This story originally appeared on MMA fighting