Francis Ngannou's coach eyes January UFC title defence

Francis Ngannou’s coach eyes January UFC heavyweight title defence as trainer remains hopeful of a Jon Jones super-fight despite Ciryl Gane winning the interim championship

  • Francis Ngannou’s team are eyeing a January 2022 return to the Octagon 
  • The Cameroonian has not fought since winning the heavyweight title in March
  • In the meantime, Ciryl Gane has won the interim championship in the division 
  • Yet Eric Nicksick remains hopeful of a Jon Jones super-fight next for Ngannou 

Francis Ngannou’s coach has revealed that a January 2022 title defence is being targeted, with the trainer still hopeful that a Jon Jones super-fight can be made despite Ciryl Gane’s ascension in the heavyweight division.

Ngannou, 34, has not set foot in the Octagon since winning the heavyweight championship in March after knocking out Stipe Miocic 52 seconds into the second round of their rematch.

The Cameroonian has long been linked with a super-fight against former light heavyweight champion Jones, but the UFC have failed to strike an agreement with the American over his pay for the showdown and talks have broken down.

Francis Ngannou is eyeing a January return to the Octagon, the UFC star’s coach has revealed

The Cameroonian, 34, was last in action in March when he beat Stipe Miocic to win the title

Ngannou was unable to make UFC 265 to face Derrick Lewis in August and the UFC opted to create an interim belt for the event, much to the 34-year-old’s frustration. Gane dominated the American fan-favourite to put himself in pole position for a shot at his former team-mate’s title.   

And Eric Nicksick, Ngannou’s coach at Xtreme Couture MMA, says that the Cameroonian is eyeing a January return and did not rule out a fight with American superstar Jones next.

‘I’m hoping, and that’s what we’ve been kicking around. We’ve been hearing January,’ Nicksick said on the MMA Hour. 

A super-fight with Jon Jones has been mooted but broke down over failed negotiations

Ngannou’s ex-team-mate Ciryl Gane has since gone on to win the interim heavyweight title

‘But you never know, man. Like, the UFC’s always willing to throw you a curveball and then, ‘Oh, guess what? You’re fighting now.”

Nickshick added that Ngannou vs Jones is ‘the fight to make’, comparing the saga to Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquaio, in which numerous obstacles prevented the boxing icons from meeting until they were past their primes.

‘I always think there’s a chance,’ he said. ‘I think that’s the fight to make and I would hate to miss out on that opportunity between Francis and Jon. 

However, Ngannou’s coach Eric Nicksick (L) is still hopeful of a Jones super-fight in January

‘It kind of reminds me of when [Manny] Pacquiao and Floyd [Mayweather] were supposed to fight the first time and then Pacquiao went and got starched or something happened, and then the luster wore away. 

‘So I’m hoping that that’s the fight that happens, because honestly, in my mind I feel that Jon Jones is the pound-for-pound GOAT. And as a coach and as a competitor, I want to compete against the best.’ 

A fight between Ngannou and Jones appears unlikely at this stage, with UFC chief Dana White insisting that a title unification is the promotion’s priority. 

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