The UFC president has finally admitted defeat after failing to reach an agreement with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is widely considered to be one of the greatest fighters to ever do it, but has been involved in a dispute with the promotion over fighter pay.
With ‘Bones’ staying inactive for the time being as he holds out in the hope of securing a massive payday, the UFC has since turned its attention to setting up a rematch between Ngannou and Lewis, who previously met in the co-main event of UFC 226: Miocic vs Cormier.
According to White, the UFC initially offered Jones the chance to fight for the title after he bulked up in preparation for a move to the heavyweight division in 2021. However, he then declined their offer, leaving them with no choice but to turn to Lewis.
“Jon Jones is under contract,” White said to ‘The Jake Asman Show.’ “He has a contract.
“We have tried to work with him and see if there are things we can do to make him want to fight at heavyweight.
“But if he doesn’t want to fight at heavyweight, he doesn’t want to at the end of the day.”
“What are you going to do? You can’t make the guy fight,” he added.
“The reality is Derrick Lewis is really the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight championship right now.
“It doesn’t matter if Jon Jones wants to fight or doesn’t want to fight.”
Many felt as though the way in which Ngannou deal with Miocic would set up a match-up with Jones in what would be one of the biggest fights in UFC history.
‘The Predator’ himself has made no secret of his desire for a super fight with Jones, but White insists that is not the case, revealing a rematch with the Cleveland native could be on the cards instead – words which will be music to the ears of Miocic and fans of the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion.
He continued: “Well, Jon Jones made it very clear that he has no interest in fighting Stipe, so it doesn’t really matter.
“What you do is you do the fight with Derrick Lewis and Francis and then Stipe gets the winner.”