Coach Mike Winkeljohn has no doubt that Jon Jones can tame the beast of Francis Ngannou.
Talks have already emerged about a potential superfight between former light heavyweight king Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) and newly crowned heavyweight champ Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC), but there are several hurdles to overcome.
After Ngannou dethroned Stipe Miocic with a brutal second-round knockout this past weekend at UFC 260, Jones tweeted “Show me the money,” but UFC president Dana White insinuated that Jones didn’t really want the fight.
White’s response resulted in a Jones tirade, which ended in him asking for his UFC release. While that’s unlikely to happen, if the highly anticipated matchup does materialize, Winkeljohn is confident that Jones has the ability and fight IQ to not only beat Ngannou, but to stop him.
“I expect Jon Jones to just take the plate and hit a homerun,” Winkeljohn told “Submission Radio.” “There’s no doubt about it. You know what? It’s about Jon imposing his will and fighting where he wants, and where he doesn’t want to, he won’t be there in the fight. So, it’s all about Jon Jones’ mentality and how smart he is. He’s got the experience on Francis, there’s no doubt about that, and Jon’s a big guy now. People would be surprised. He’s been hammering the weights, lifting. His power doubles, he can launch people over his head like crazy. He’s just so strong everywhere, and he hasn’t lost any speed. I think people are going have a great new look at the better Jon Jones in the future.”
He continued, “Oh gosh, Jon finishes him late in the fight. I think Jon, after some ground-and-pound, will end up tapping Francis out late in the fight.”
While Winkeljohn is wary of the kind of power Ngannou packs, he thinks Jones can neutralize his striking by taking the fight to the mat. Jones has been building into the heavyweight frame and Winkeljohn expects him to be a lot stronger than at light heavyweight, and to retain the ability to wear Ngannou out over time.
“I mean, there’s no doubt,” Winkeljohn said. “I think Jon’s got the advantage (in wrestling). Francis can explode out of anything, but it’s also the conditioning aspect. People don’t understand that Jon’s cardio has always been better than his opponents, and that’s what he brings to the table. And you can scramble so many times, and at that point in time, now your cardio starts taking over. And the strongest man in the world is very, very weak if they don’t have any cardio.”
But first, Jones has to come to an agreement with the UFC. Winkeljohn thinks Jones is certainly worth the price of admission and a superfight with Ngannou would sell big.
“I think this fight can be easily as (big as) some of the big Mayweather fights out there,” Winkeljohn said. “What did Floyd Mayweather make? A hundred million? I don’t know. You know, that type of thing. He was kind of his own promoter. So, Jon’s got to share that with the UFC as far as on pay-per-view buys.
“But I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a $50 million fight, and the UFC still makes bank and is able to pay off a lot of the debt they have and go forward. I think the UFC needs a superstar like Jon Jones. I think Conor (McGregor) was the guy for a while, and he’s fallen off. But those big names is what makes the UFC money, ultimately.”