Dana White: Derrick Lewis Deserves Francis Ngannou UFC Fight Amid Jon Jones Talks

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 20: Derrick Lewis prepares to fight Curtis Blaydes in a heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC President Dana White said Friday that Derrick Lewis deserves a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou before Jon Jones.

Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast (h/t Shaheen Al-Shatti of The Athletic), White said: "We tried to work with Jon, and, you know, we eventually have to move on. Because realistically, in all honesty, Derrick Lewis is the guy who deserves the [Ngannou] fight. ... So that's the fight that should happen and we'll just roll and do what we do."

Ngannou won the UFC heavyweight title for the first time last month when he beat Stipe Miocic by second-round knockout.

The 33-year-old Jones, long considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, vacated the light heavyweight title last year with an eye toward moving up to the heavyweight ranks.

Jones has not fought since UFC 247 in February 2020, however, and is in the midst of a contract dispute with the promotion.

During an interview with FightHype.com (h/t ESPN's Brett Okamoto) earlier this month, Jones expressed his belief that a title fight with Ngannou will happen: "I think it's going to happen. I think the UFC will eventually do the right thing. This is one of the greatest fights of our generation, and it would be really sad if it weren't to happen. It would be a real tragedy. All in good time. We're patient."

While Jones vs. Ngannou may happen eventually, White's focus is on Lewis vs. Ngannou.

In the interview with Simmons, White said Jones wants $30 million guaranteed to fight Ngannou, which has been a sticking point in negotiations.

Given Jones' status as one of the biggest stars and draws in UFC history, it is fair to say Jones vs. Ngannou would be a bigger deal than Lewis vs. Ngannou to prospective pay-per-view buyers.

Jones is 26-1 with one no-contest in his career, and the loss only came because he was disqualified for illegal strikes against Matt Hamill in 2009.

Ngannou is 16-3 with 12 wins by knockout, and he is riding a five-fight winning streak with victories over big names Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Miocic.

It is difficult to deny Lewis deserves a title shot, though, especially since Jones has yet to test himself at the heavyweight level.

Lewis is a heavyweight veteran on a four-fight winning streak, including a knockout win over Blaydes in February,

He is 25-7 with 20 knockouts and owns a victory over Ngannou, beating him by unanimous decision at UFC 226 in 2018.

Since Lewis is on a roll and has proved he can beat Ngannou, it is easy to see why White has his sights set on that rematch.