In his rematch against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, Francis Ngannou did not seem to be in any sort of danger.
He punished Miocic for coming in unguarded, knocking him out early in the second round. The newly-crowned UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou sent out a warning to all the heavyweights without even uttering a word.
Fighters like Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov are now lining up to get a shot against 'The Predator'. However, for several reasons, it is Jon 'Bones' Jones who should be pitted against Francis Ngannou as soon as possible.
One, the two-time former UFC light heavyweight champion and currently the no. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Jon Jones has moved up to the heavyweight division.
Two, following Francis Ngannou's win at UFC 260, Jon Jones has claimed that he wants to take on the new heavyweight champion. Three, 'Bones' does have an arsenal to pick apart the scariest fighter in the world that Francis Ngannou has become.
On that note, let's look at five reasons why Jon Jones might be the only UFC fighter with the ability to solve the Francis Ngannou puzzle.
#5 Jon Jones' lethal inventory of kicks
Jon Jones' unorthodox Muay Thai technique can pose all sorts of problems for Francis Ngannou. Jones is known to deploy his leg kicks, spinning back kicks, head kicks, elliptical kicks and oblique kicks against bigger opponents to stay at a safe distance.
Francis Ngannou is renowned for charging into his opponents with swinging hands to land a knockout punch. However, the technique might not work 100% with Jon Jones, as the latter could use his kicks to deter Ngannou's aggression and also inflict some serious damage on Ngannou's legs.
When the 263-pounder Francis Ngannou marches forward heavy on his legs, Jon Jones' plethora of leg-kicks could deal some devastating damage.
At 6' 4", Jon Jones may not find it too difficult to land high head kicks on Francis Ngannou while staying at a safe distance.
#4 Reach advantage
Both Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones are of the same height. That means the towering Ngannou may not be able to capitalise the advantage of his hulking frame against Jon Jones.
On top of that, Jon Jones has a 184.5" reach compared to Francis Ngannou's 183". For an agile striker with feet as light as Jon Jones, a 1.5" reach advantage could make all the difference in the world.
That could be key for Jon Jones's win, as he'll be able to stay out of Francis Ngannou's range, aka death zone. And a better reach would mean that instead of 'Bones', 'The Predator' would need to be weary of getting punched in the face.
Although Jon Jones is not as strong a knockout artist as Francis Ngannou is, the American MMA fighter still knows how to strike.
Francis Ngannou surprised the MMA world when he defended a take-down against Stipe Miocic in the first round at UFC 260. While many analysts were quick to say that Ngannou was now undefeatable, takedowns are still the way to beat the new UFC champion.
In a social media post after his defeat against Francis Ngannou, Stipe Miocic revealed that he had deviated from his gameplan and got punished. Miocic was supposed to keep attempting takedowns on 'The Predator'. But early in the second round, he charged inside unguarded for a follow-up strike, thinking Ngannou was hurt, which cost him the title.
Jon Jones has rated Alexander Gustafsson as his toughest opponent, as the Swedish was constantly defending his takedowns during their first fight. However, Francis Ngannou lacks that quickness and also hasn't spent time with Phil Davis - boxes that Gustafsson had ticked.
Jones' fight against the knockout specialist Quinton 'Rampage' Jackon is also noteworthy. While 'Rampage' posed a huge threat to Jon Jones with his formidable knockout power, 'Bones' managed to stay out of his range. In the fourth round of their fight, Jackson tapped out gasping for breath.
#2 Superior Fight IQ
Jon Jones isn't just a reckless fighter relying on his knockout power. Although Francis Ngannou has tamed himself to be a more calm and composed striker, there is still a glaring disparity between his and Jon Jones' fight IQ.
After all, there is a reason that Jon Jones has the longest unbeaten streak (18) in UFC history and is currently ranked the number one pound-for-pound fighter. His fight IQ is second to none.
Jones has been able to adapt and emerge victorious against numerous opponents inside the octagon. Take Dominick Reyes, Stipe Miocic, Daniel Cormier or Alexander Gustafsson, for example. Jones has faced all these lethal MMA fighters and managed to hold his own.
What is more interesting is that Jon Jones and his coach have already devised a plan for the inflexible Francis Ngannou.
Speaking to Submission Radio, Jones' coach Mike Winkeljohn said they are well aware of Francis Ngannou's gameplan.
"If every punch is a knockout punch, he (Francis Ngannou) is easier to fight. Because there is no set-ups. There are no baits; there are no feints. He's always winging for fences. Those can be seen. There are telegraphs. They are coming out of nowhere. Unless you are hurt and coming in exposed, you should be able to avoid those. That will be the game. I think he has matured. I think he isn't that (wild) guy as much anymore. But I think he is still gonna want to try (to) knock Jon out, and we're gonna capitalize on that," Mike Winkeljohn said.
#1 Francis Ngannou's questionable stamina
Francis Ngannou is a knockout artist. He is known to not take matters beyond the first round. One of the greatest heavyweight fighters, Stipe Miocic, could not resist 'The Predator' for more than six minutes in their rematch.
However, if forced to fight till the later rounds, Francis Ngannou can get gassed out easily. While Ngannou makes sure he doesn't have to go deep, his stamina has run short on two occasions, both times against Stipe Miocic, when he has had to go beyond the first round.
While Francis Ngannou was starting to get tired at UFC 260, Stipe Miocic deviated from his plan, causing the Cameroonian to hit him with a counter punch. Speaking about his deviation, Miocic had wrote in his post following his defeat at UFC 260:
"I saw it was beginning to go as planned. He was getting very winded, and I came in over zealous and unprotected."
If Jon Jones can control the pace of the fight and force Francis Ngannou to fight till the later rounds, his takedowns, leg kicks, and setups could all start falling into place to crack the 263-pounder colossus.