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Jon Jones optimistic fight with Francis Ngannou will happen, but would be a 'tragedy' if not

In a brief interview this week, former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones expressed optimism he will challenge Francis Ngannou for the UFC's heavyweight title at some point, although he doesn't know exactly when.

Jones (26-1), who is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet according to ESPN, vacated his 205-pound championship last year in anticipation of a move to heavyweight. The 33-year-old has been in an ongoing contract dispute with the UFC as of late, however, and even publicly requested his release from the company last month.

In a video interview released by FightHype.com on Thursday, Jones did not offer a concrete update on his situation, but was positive nonetheless.

"I think it's going to happen," Jones said. "I think the UFC will eventually do the right thing. This is one of the greatest fights of our generation, and it would be really sad if it weren't to happen. It would be a real tragedy. All in good time. We're patient."

Ngannou (16-3) won the UFC championship last month by dethroning Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 via second-round knockout. He has won his last five bouts via knockout.

The UFC has another option for Ngannou's first title defense in heavyweight Derrick Lewis. The two fought in a very lackluster bout in 2018. Lewis won via decision. Jones seemed to indicate he won't mind if the UFC moves ahead with that fight.

"Right now, I'm just focusing on things we can control, just being in the best shape," Jones said. "I think me getting in shape sells the fight even more. People want to see two titans. Francis is already a titan and I'm trying to become a titan. I want to be the same size as this guy or bigger when we get out there.

"[There is] no backup plan. Whether I'm fighting Francis or Derrick Lewis, whether I'm Francis' third or fourth title defense -- it won't really matter to me. My goal is to be the heavyweight champion and the opponent really won't matter. The month won't matter. I'm just getting ready and I believe good will prevail."

A matchup between Ngannou and Jones, who is widely considered one of the greatest fighters of all time, would likely be a box office hit for the UFC but thus far, UFC president Dana White and Jones have not been able to get on the same page. White has hinted, publicly, that he believes Jones is essentially turning down the fight by asking for an unrealistic purse, which prompted Jones' request for a release on social media.

For now, Jones says he believes the fight will happen and has already started preparing for it.