Jon Jones vs Francis Ngannou: Three reasons why Bones can beat UFC champion

  • Tom Ward
Jon Jones

UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou never appeared to be in any serious danger during his title fight with Stipe Miocic, but Jon Jones poses the biggest threat to the 263-pound colossus.

Jones, Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov are among the rumoured opponents to face Ngannou in his first title defense, but it’s fair to say that the former has the best chance of beating the newly-crowned champ. 

Arguably one of the most adaptable, dynamic, and innovative fighters ever to have set foot inside the UFC Octagon, ‘Bones’ has built a career from beating the highest level of opposition, often at their very own game. 

Named the Fighter of the Year by ESPN in 2011, Jones became the youngest fighter to win a UFC championship in the promotion’s history at the age of 23 years and 242 days. 

When Jones first burst onto the UFC scene, the then fresh-faced 23-year-old was a sight to behold, often deploying an array of eye-catching spinning techniques, intelligent Greco-Roman wrestling and vicious ground-and-pound from the top position in a constant blur of motion to cause huge amounts of damage to his opponents. 

In recent years, however, the 33-year-old has somewhat struggled at times against the likes of Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos, while he narrowly avoided disqualification after kneeing Anthony Smith in the side of the head.  

But how can Jones beat the seemingly unstoppable force that is Francis Ngannou? What are his keys to victory, and how much of that is down to his raw talent and ability?

Fight IQ

There’s a reason why Jones is ranked as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport right now. While his performances have arguably been lacklustre as of late, he still holds the record for the longest unbeaten streak in UFC history (18). 

It goes without saying that his fight IQ is second to none. The former UFC light heavyweight champion has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to adapt when it counts the most; against Reyes, he actually outperformed the two-time title challenger in the final two rounds. 

If Jones can dictate the pace of the fight and drag Ngannou into deeper waters, doubt may begin to set in if the 34-year-old starts to lose his rhythm. 

It’s also easy to forget that Jones went toe to toe with knockout artist Quinton Jackson, staying just out of range of his formidable punching power, before taking the fight to the ground and forcing ‘Rampage’ to tap out in the fourth round of his first successful title defence.

Oblique kicks

While Jones has always relied on his kicks to help him to manage distance and find his range, his unorthodox Muay Thai style may cause Ngannou all sorts of problems. 

For the most part, Ngannou has built his career off the back of a series of viral knockouts, essentially blitzing forward in short, sharp bursts in a straight line, but this is something that he will most likely be unable to do against Jones, who frequently uses oblique kicks to immobilise his opponents with devastating effect. 

Jones also boasts an impressive arsenal of body shots, spinning elbows and knee strikes, often dropping his head beneath his opponent’s from the clinch and driving them to the fence.

Reach advantage

There is no doubt that Jones is one of the most naturally gifted fighters to ever grace the Octagon and his continued success is a testament to this. But his significant wingspan with a 1.5″ reach advantage over Ngannou could also go a long way towards helping to keep the French-Cameroonian at bay.

Standing at 6′ 4″ tall with an 83″ reach, the hulking frame of Ngannou towers over most of his opponents. But Jones, who is the same height as Ngannou, is also a freak of nature, the kind of physical specimen you’d expect to find in Weapon X, not inside the Octagon. 

Unfortunately for UFC fans, as Jones and Dana White continue to trade barbs, the super-fight we all want to see looks increasingly unlikely at this precise moment in time. 

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