Francis Ngannou can essentially handpick his next opponent after shocking the world by taking lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to a split decision in his professional boxing debut, but there’s likely one name that remains out of reach.
UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Ngannou and Jones danced around a fight with one another for the better part of two years, but they never actually got to compete. Time off, injuries, and contract negotiations prevented the fight from happening before Ngannou cut ties with the UFC as a free agent so he could pursue his boxing match with Fury, as well as a lucrative new deal with the PFL.
While Ngannou’s options are plenty right now, his head coach Eric Nicksick still dreams about a world where he can finally get “The Predator” ready for a fight with arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time.
“In a perfect world, for me, I still want that Jon Jones fight,” Nicksick said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “Hell yeah, I do. Just because I want to compete against the best and I think Jon is the best. I don’t want any more guesses about who is the baddest man on the planet. Let’s run it. Let’s do it.”
As much as Nicksick might want the fight, booking Ngannou against Jones right now would require the UFC to co-promote alongside the PFL. It’s a move the organization has shot down at nearly every turn outside of the 2017 boxing match between UFC superstar Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather.
The UFC also doesn’t have financial need to co-promote with anybody thanks the company raking in record profits and revenue over the past two years, not to mention an upcoming broadcast rights deal that could be one of the richest in sports.
Still, Nicksick would love to see the UFC and PFL find a way to work together, if only once, to finally put together a dream fight that would be even bigger now after Ngannou’s performance against Fury.
“You can make that happen,” Nicksick said. “Both sides can make that happen if they really wanted to. Set your egos aside , let’s get Allegiant Stadium [in Las Vegas], let’s give what the fans want and let’s get Jon and Francis and let’s see who the baddest man on the planet is.
“I want to compete against the best. I’ve said that time and time again. It’s no disrespect to Jon. I think he’s the best to ever do it, but I want that opportunity to coach against him and I want that opportunity to go beat the guy.”
Ngannou left the UFC as heavyweight champion, which resulted in the promotion booking a new fight between Jones and Ciryl Gane with a vacant title up for grabs. The way Nicksick sees it, getting Ngannou back for a fight with Jones now would only serve as a payoff for the UFC after losing him in free agency.
“I look at it like this — if you have [Shohei] Ohtani and let him walk for free, you don’t get anything out of it,” Nicksick explained. “They didn’t get anything back from letting the baddest man on the planet walk away. Nothing. They didn’t go on and put on a superfight. They didn’t do anything. They just let him walk for free. I think now can kind of right that wrong and give yourself the opportunity and cross-promote. Do a PFL-UFC and let’s put the baddest man on the planet up against the other one. Let’s figure it out. Let’s do it at Allegiant Stadium, let’s sell the place out. Let’s sell all these pay-per-view buys.
“Everybody wins at the end of the day. Everybody wins. The fans win. The fighters win. The promoters win. Possibly even the UFC because look at this way, Francis obviously is kind of making them eat their words. He walked away for free and he’s going out and doing his thing. At the end of the day, that’s what we wanted. We wanted to box and do it under the Zuffa banner and co-promote. I think anything’s possible.”
While it remains to be seen if the UFC would ever consider a co-promotion with anybody, much less a rival MMA organization, Nicksick hopes the two sides could find common ground for the greater good.
“I think Dana [White] and the UFC are smart businessmen,” Nicksick said. “If the business is right, the logistics are right, I think you set your ego aside and just make it happen.”
This story originally appeared on MMA fighting