How Do Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones Match up With Francis Ngannou?

How Do Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones Match up With Francis Ngannou?

Now these are two dream fights to make!

Will 41-year-old Daniel Cormier be able to weather the ferocious storm of the young lion, Francis Ngannou, in order to close the distance, obtain the clinch, take him down, and keep him there?

That is asking quite a lot but if any 41-year-old heavyweight can do it, it’s DC.

Can Jon Jones, a man who has never even been knocked down in competition, be able to take the hardest punch in mixed martial arts history? With a superior wrestling pedigree, would Jon even get hit?

I think it’s safe to say he would take a few no matter what but there’s only one way to tell. Let’s match these two up!

Twitter is abuzz with Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou going back and forth at each other.

Yes, that is Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes chiming in after Francis Ngannou’s 20-second destruction of fellow heavyweight striker Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

Since Francis Ngannou is becoming a household name, maybe it’s time for a BIG MONEY fight. The biggest fight I can think of is with Jon Jones.

I’m not entirely sure how these two men began talking crap to each other but the recent Twitter war began with this.

After several days of posting training excerpts of Iron Mike Tyson giving him boxing tips for working inside the pocket, Francis reached out to Jon Jones again.

Big ol’ mouse?! Them’s fye’tn words…

Francis is a really nice guy but hey, so is DC and Jon was able to turn him into an emotional wreck. It’s important not to underestimate the mind games played by “Bones”. So, you have the backstory.

Let’s see what DC had to say. Cormier chimed in on a recent interview and said

“I will insult Jones on any day of the week, but I will also give him credit where credit is due, and I truly believe that this Francis Ngannou thing is one of the most gangster things in the world,”

Could that be a little bit of his own psychological warfare?

DC, like everyone else, wants to see Jon Jones get slept, and now he is giving Jones expectations to live up to and the potential fight isn’t even signed yet.

BetOnline.AG has betting odds on both Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier’s chances of beating Ngannou or Frank the Tank as I like to call him. Let’s take a look at each man’s odds to win, break down both possible matchups, and make our picks on a victor.

Francis Ngannou (-140) vs Daniel Cormier (+120)

This fight is a lot less likely to happen than Francis vs Jones, in my opinion, but it’s still tremendously intriguing. Hmm, how would this one play out?

  • If Francis Ngannou can defend the takedown attempts from Cormier, he will, in all likelihood, have enough time on his feet to punch him into another dimension.
  • If Daniel Cormier can safely close the distance and somehow force the much larger man, Ngannou, up against the cage, I favor DC.

Okay, so we know Daniel Cormier is one of the best wrestlers in the history of mixed martial arts. He is an Olympian and former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion.

Daniel has been able to successfully take down everyone he’s ever fought except for Jon Jones who was simply too tall and skilled to be swept off his feet. Francis, like Jon, is 6’4” but has an extra 25 pounds of muscle and infinitely more punching power.

DC has only ever lost to Jon Jones and most recently, Stipe Miocic.

Daniel was able to take Miocic to the ground. I actually think he had that fight in the bag if he would have stuck to a more strict grappling heavy game plan.

Side note:

Here’s something I have noticed lately in mixed martial arts. Once you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Assuming athletic ability is roughly even, Ngannou’s wrestling is going to improve at a much higher rate than Daniel Cormier’s wrestling.

DC has been wrestling for his entire life and the surges in technique he likely experienced when he first started are long gone now.

If you guys watched the UFC this past Saturday, you saw Angela Hill put on a masterful performance of sprawling and brawling, albeit quite technically, against Claudia Gadelha.

I picked Claudia because of her ability to take down and control 75% of her opponents. 90% of her wins come by way of decision so I thought getting even money on a 2-1 favorite to win on the judges’ scorecards was a good bet.

Well, she won the decision but it was a bad call. Angela Hill has a striking base but has the athletic ability to up her wrestling skills over the years. She did just that.

Carla Esparza vs Michele Waterson is another example. I took Carla because of her wrestling pedigree and Octagon performances consistently taking down and controlling most of her opponents, much like Gadelha. Waterson doesn’t have a wrestling base. She did Freestyle Karate as a kid.

If you’re training correctly for MMA, though, you are doing plenty of wrestling and over the years, fighters catch up.

I can say the same about fighters with a wrestling base growing their striking prowess at a faster rate than the guy who has been kickboxing since the age of 10.

Did you see Ray Borg’s hands in his last fight vs Ricky Simon? Ray is one of the best grapplers in the Bantamweight division but at just 26-years-old, is not done evolving into a complete fighter.

My point is this: Look how quickly Francis Ngannou was able to develop such deadly striking skills. There’s no reason his takedown defense shouldn’t improve leaps and bounds every single fight camp.

Ngannou was knocking out UFC Heavyweights when he had only 3 years of boxing experience. His hands were powerful then and after 5 years, they are much more technical and thus, even more deadly.

Francis was taken down and controlled for 25 long minutes by Stipe Miocic in Ngannou’s only title fight. That was in January of 2018. The blueprint is there and it appears that Daniel Cormier is a bad stylistic matchup for Francis.

Ngannou has very fast hands for a heavyweight and a fighter’s reaction time starts to diminish around the age of 38. DC is 41 now.

If I thought Daniel only needed one takedown to finish Franky, I would lean his way but each round starts on the feet and I don’t see Daniel closing the distance safely and effectively more than two times.

  • Ngannou is a smart fighter. If you listen to him speak, he is cunning. He just came out guns blazing in his most recent win but against a patient counter striker like Rozenstruik, it wasn’t a bad idea.
  • Ngannou has been working with the guys over at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas for years now and most every fighter who trains there has a strong wrestling base.

Thanks, Randy.

I don’t know this for sure but I believe Francis has been improving his wrestling defense over the past couple of years and even if Daniel is able to get him to the mat early on, eventually Ngannou will catch him.

My Pick

Francis Ngannou (-150) v Jon Jones (+130)

These odds are interesting. I mean, I get why the online sportsbooks and bettors feel DC is a bigger threat to Francis than “Bones”. He has a better offensive wrestling game on paper than Jon.

Daniel is probably physically a stronger man than Jon. Jones used his levers and length to fend off DC but strength for strength, I think Cormier has got him.

My first thought was the same as the books. I told a colleague that DC matches up better. Then, I thought about the age discrepancy.

The Predator is in his heavyweight prime of 33-years-old. “Bones”, who is right behind Frank the Tank at 32 years of age, is a much better match for Ngannou.

Here’s why: Francis has never had to fight someone as long as him. Curtis Blaydes is every bit of 6’4”, 250 pounds, and has an 80-inch wingspan. Ngannou’s arms span 83 inches. Jon Jones’ reach is measured at 84.5!

They say your reach is around your height. Well, both of these men have incredibly long arms. Both fighters will have to make slight adjustments to their game to account for the lack of a reach advantage they are accustomed to.

One checkmark for Jon is that Francis will be the third consecutive aggressive powerful striker he’s fought. I didn’t count Anthony Smith because he doesn’t possess the one-punch knockout power Jon’s two most recent opponents, Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes.

This has got to help Jon, right? Not so much. It is arguable that he lost not one but both of those fights.

If two light heavyweight strikers came that close to winning, what is going to happen against an even more powerful, aggressive, and much bigger man in Ngannou?

If you watch Jon’s fights with Reyes and Santos, you don’t see much trading or engaging at all. I hated those fights, honestly.

Thiago started out looking phenomenal landing heavy heavy low kicks and punches upstairs. Jon is a defensive wizard, though, and when he checked one that landed a little earlier than Thiago had planned, it tore several ligaments in the Brazilian’s knee.

Santos was still able to blitz forward at times and it was unclear how many of those punches landed flush.

Both of those fights went the same way. Jon would press forward but only until he would get pressed back and even then, his movement was straight back. Big no no… Never take more than one consecutive step backward.

Jones got away with it because of the massive reach advantage he had on both guys.

  • Trust me. I have a bad habit of backing straight up because I am usually longer than my opponents. Eventually, your back hits the cage but even before that, fighters can explode forward and cover some serious distance.
  • I like to kick. So does Jon. We learned in the Edson Barboza fight among others that pressure punching beats lengthy kicking 9 times out of 10.

Thiago Santos’s reach is just 76 inches and Dominick Reyes isn’t much longer at 77. Jon has had 8 inches to play with in each of his previous two fights but that advantage virtually disappears against French Frank.

I think it’s safe to say also that Ngannou not only has much more reach than those two but significantly more power as well. He has finished his last four opponents in a COMBINED 2:40.

Two of those fighters are former UFC Heavyweight World Champions. One is a kickboxing champion and the other would probably be the future champ if not for 2 losses to Francis.

If they clinch, I think Ngannou will be too strong for Jon, and “Bones” won’t have the advantage in bone structure that has been carrying him as of late.

Yes, Jon Jones has a great chin. It’s quite rare that he gets hit more than once at a time but we have seen him take some heavy blows and not be phased. Has Jon ever even knocked anyone down with a punch, though?

Francis has knocked more people out in the last 20 seconds than Jon has in his entire career.

The gap in punching power between these two rivals the current political divide in our country right now. It goes beyond the horizon. You can’t even see the other side.

Please Note:

My only worry is Francis fighting not to lose if he becomes worried about the takedown from Jones. That happened to him against Stipe Miocic but Curtis Blaydes brought an equal wrestling threat into the Octagon and he lasted a whole 45 seconds the last time he fought Ngannou.

I just believe it is his time.

Jon is amazing but he has always fallen back on his frame. Jones has a hole in his game whether you want to believe it or not. He backs straight up and doesn’t even counter strike.

His last two fights were boring to me. His opponents would blast forward to cover the 8-inch reach gap and Jon would back up quickly with his chin down and hands up.

Because these guys can’t continue to explode like that for 25 minutes, Jones had time to walk them down and throw a side kick to the leg, and eventually test their cardio in the championship rounds with pressure.

I don’t think Jon is all of a sudden going to turn into a heavyweight Vasyl Lomachenko stepping off the center line and landing quick shots to the broad side of the charging bull.

He’s going to back up with his chin down and hands up but without the gigantic reach advantage, the second and third shots will get through.

That’s when I think he gets clipped behind the ear and Franky goes in for the kill.

My Pick

In Conclusion

Boy are these two fun fights to make!

I’m pretty sure we are more likely to see Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou fight than DC get in there with the behemoth at his age.

Cormier is scheduled to have his trilogy fight with current UFC Heavyweight World Champion Stipe Miocic.

Stipe is a first responder, though, in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, and has stated that with the current state of health and safety in America, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to properly prepare. I feel that.

His third meeting with Daniel Cormier should be amazing. Their last battle was one of my favorite heavyweight fights of all-time.

I believe DC will have a better opportunity to get under the punches of Ngannou and potentially take him to the mat. Once they are there, though, I don’t believe Daniel can get the quick finish.

Stipe couldn’t finish him in 25 minutes and Francis is a whole lot better than he was just 2 years ago. I’m convinced, good chin or not, if Ngannou hits you clean, goodnight!

Against Bones Jones, I believe French Frank would charge. Jones is used to fighting this style but never anyone with the length and power Ngannou possesses.

Get your bets in now on these fights, guys.

I don’t think the needle will be moving in the direction of either Jones or Cormier so now may be the time to get the most valuable betting line available.

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.