MMA News Roundup: Francis Ngannou Teases Jon Jones Fight to Joe Rogan; Dana White Drops Major Announcement on UFC 296; UFC Veteran to Judge UFC Vegas 79

Published 09/23/2023, 6:22 AM EDT

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In the ever-evolving world of MMA, staying up-to-date with the latest news is essential. Our daily MMA news roundup brings you the highlights from the past 24 hours, ensuring you’re in the know. So, what’s buzzing in the MMA multiverse?

Today, we delve into a captivating podcast discussion between Joe Rogan and former UFC Heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou. Interestingly, ‘The Predator’ is still keen on going to war with Jon Jones. Then we will shift our focus to Dana White’s surprising announcement about the UFC 296 PPV. We’ll wrap things up with an intriguing story about a UFC veteran stepping into the role of a judge at UFC Vegas 79. 

Francis Ngannou thinks Jon Jones fight is still possible


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Francis Ngannou’s desire to clash with Jon Jones remains unwavering. During a recent appearance on episode #146 of the JRE MMA Show, ‘The Predator’ expressed his eagerness to fight the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, even if it’s in a non-title bout. 

He believes that a match between them would carry significant meaning, transcending the need for a championship belt. Arguing the same, ‘The Predator’ has declared, “It’s possible – but they [UFC] have to go through the PFL now. The PFL is down for that… Maybe it will be a special fight, a special belt or something, maybe not like a UFC belt.”

Ngannou hinted that the PFL would be open to a potential super fight with Jones, but the UFC would need to agree to cross-promotion. He sees the possibility of a special fight with a unique belt, distinct from the standard UFC championship. Notably, these two heavyweight giants sparked fan excitement when they crossed paths at a PFL event in June. 

Dana White introduces surprising additions to UFC 296 PPV roster

UFC 296 continues to shape up as another exciting event in the MMA calendar. UFC CEO Dana White recently unveiled two high-profile fights for the December 16 pay-per-view. White confirmed a welterweight clash between Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Shavkhat Rakhmonov. According to various sources, this is a fight that both fighters had previously agreed upon – via social media. These matchups are expected to be part of the ESPN+ main card. He made the announcement on X, revealing, 

“I just gave you some announcements the other day. Well, I have some new ones! UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington [on] December 16th, in T-Mobile Arena. I’m sure you already saw it on social media, but we have Wonderboy vs. Shavkat Rakhmanov…”


What’s more – he also revealed that former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson is set to square off against Paddy Pimblett. He added, “Another one you don’t know about, on the same card – Paddy Pimblett vs. Tony Ferguson… This card is still being built. It’s going to be one of the best cards of the year. I will have more information for you soon…”

Read More: “Beat That A**”: Stipe Miocic Predicts a Grim Night for Jon Jones Ahead of Their Fight at UFC 295

White’s announcement was brimming with enthusiasm. He promised that UFC 296 would stand out as one of the year’s premier events. But will the event be able to live up to its hype? Only time will tell.

UFC veteran poised to be a judge at UFC Vegas 79

In an intriguing development, retired MMA fighter Chris Leben is poised to make his debut as a judge at UFC Vegas 79. Leben, who is a beloved figure in the MMA world, fought in the UFC from 2005 to 2013. For the past four years, he has been a professional referee and judge in California. But why is the UFC taking this initiative now? Well, the spotlight on judging in MMA intensified recently due to a contentious result in the Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 UFC title fight.



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The bout ended in a split draw, with Grasso retaining her belt. Some believe that former fighters transitioning into judging roles could help address scoring issues. Chris Leben, at 43 years old, is among the select few fighters to successfully transition to officiating, and his debut as a judge in Nevada adds an intriguing dimension to UFC Vegas 79.


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As we wrap up this daily MMA news roundup, we’re reminded once again that the world of MMA never ceases to surprise and entertain. What do you make of these intriguing developments in your beloved fight game? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Watch this story: After Intense Beef Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones Faceoff Raises the Roof at PFL Five


Written by:

Ashish Tiwari


One take at a time

Ashish is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. With an unwavering love for the sport, he immerses himself in the thrilling world of MMA, capturing the essence of each high-octane fight and delving into the intricacies of a fighter's strategy. His in-depth knowledge and analytical approach enable him to provide unique insights into the sport.
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Edited by:

Yeswanth Praveen