Derrick Lewis might have a shot at Francis Ngannou ahead of Jon Jones going by recent developments at the negotiating table.
The UFC is reportedly keen to book a title fight between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis but have not been able to finalize the date yet. According to Ariel Helwani from ESPN, the UFC wanted to schedule a heavyweight headliner for UFC 263 but Ngannou isn't prepared to fight so early. Empathizing with Francis Ngannou, Helwani wrote on Twitter:
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was expected to make his return to the Octagon for a shot at the UFC heavyweight title. However, Jones and the UFC seem to be far apart at the negotiating table after the former recently raised a ruckus on Twitter demanding adequate pay.
According to Ariel Helwani, the UFC doesn't seem to have any intention of meeting Jones' price for the time being. Suggesting that the rematch between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis be booked for a later date, Helwani further wrote:
If a rematch between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis does come to fruition, it could potentially be set for UFC 264 which will feature a trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
The first meeting between Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou
Derrick Lewis has previously faced Francis Ngannou in the co-main event at UFC 226. While many were expecting a slugfest between the knockout artists, the fight was largely marked by inactivity. Derrick Lewis emerged as the winner via decision after a total of 31 strikes being landed in the fight.