Eric Nicksick, Francis Ngannou's head coach, is optimistic that the UFC will be able to complete the major bout between Ngannou and Jon Jones for the UFC heavyweight title, but there are still obstacles to overcome.
According to various sources and chats, the bout will take place at UFC 285 on March 4 in Las Vegas. Ngannou is recovering from knee surgery after tearing his ACL and MCL prior to his UFC 270 victory against Ciryl Gane in January 2022, as well as a public contract battle with the UFC this year.
When asked where things stand for the Ngannou-Jones battle at UFC 285, Nicksick offered his best assessment.
“I think it’s 50-50, to be honest with you, when you’re talking business and timeline,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “I’m confident from what I saw from Francis a couple of weeks ago that if we had to be ready for March, I think we can get him ready, but I think it is cutting it a little bit short because he had to go back home and renew his visa.
“And then obviously they still haven’t announced anything yet with his contract and where they’re at, so 50-50 for me. I’m hoping for this thing, fingers crossed that we can get this deal done. If it’s not March, maybe it’s April or May, or something like that. I do know that they’re shooting for March and that Jon Jones is the opponent. Everything else is out of my hands, but if they tell me, ‘Hey, we’re fighting March 4,’ we’ll have our guy ready, that’s for sure.”
Ngannou is presently in Cameroon, where he spent the holiday season, renewing his visa in order to return to Las Vegas and Xtreme Couture for whatever comes his way.
Prior to departing for home, Nicksick worked with Ngannou in the gym during a private session, which left the head coach in a very favorable mood, not only because of what he witnessed from the UFC heavyweight champion physically, but also emotionally.