It appears as though Derrick Lewis, not Jon Jones, will face UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, according to Dana White.
Speaking with Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, White discussed the next steps for Ngannou. Beating Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 260, Ngannou stated he is ready for any challenge. While there are several choices, White believes there is only one bout to book.
“It’s probably going to be ‘The Black Beast,'” White said (h/t MMANews). “At the end of the day, Derrick Lewis and Ngannou is the fight. That’s the fight to make right now.
“Derrick Lewis is a heavyweight, he’s been fighting at heavyweight. He’s earned this shot (against Ngannou). He’s got a win over him. It’s the fight to make.”
The last time Ngannou and Lewis fought one another was at UFC 226 in 2018. Lewis beat Ngannou via unanimous decision in a bout that was heavily criticized by fans all over. The loss was Ngannou's second in a row following a loss to Miocic at UFC 220.
White doesn't think history will repeat itself when it comes to match quality.
“That fight (at UFC 226) didn’t do what everybody expected it to do,” White went on to say. “It can’t go bad twice, can it?”
Since losing to Lewis, Ngannou has won five in a row, all of them by knockout. Lewis has gone 5-2 since then and is currently on a four-fight win streak. His last fight was a knockout win over Curtis Blaydes in February, the second time Lewis beat Blaydes.
Lewis would be taking a spot many thought would go to former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Jones and White have been at a stalemate regarding a matchup against Ngannou, most notably over pay.