The UFC‘s heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (17-3) is currently recovering from knee surgery that took place last month. Ngannou had damage to his ACL and MCL repaired following his win over Ciryl Gane that took place back in January.
The win over Gane was Ngannou’s first title defense in the UFC. After the fight was over, there were a lot of questions surrounding Ngannou’s future with the promotion. There has been some hostility between Ngannou’s camp and the promotion on the terms of a new contract.
Ngannou made a flat $600,000 before PPV for his last fight against Gane. The UFC had made attempts to resign Ngannou to a long-term deal with higher pay, but Ngannou and his management weren’t on the same page in regards to the terms.
One of the biggest sticking points for the heavyweight champion was his ability to box. Ngannou has been very open about what he wants from the UFC. He wants a massive payday that would allow him to box the best heavyweight in the world, Tyson Fury.
Boxing vs UFC: Heavyweight Edition?
Ngannou is a superstar and he’s a knockout machine for the UFC. The heavyweight champion’s contract currently expires at the end of 2022 and Ngannou is targeting a return at the end of the year. Previously, he has said that he will not fight again under his current UFC contract.
At one point, it was hard to see the sides ever coming together. However, Ngannou seemed much more open to resigning yesterday when he appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour. Ngannou talked about the fact that there are still big fights in the UFC he wants and he definitely wants to resign.
However, there’s a big IF in there. The heavyweight champion says that he will only resign with the promotion if they allow him to do a special-rules matchup with the boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Over this past weekend, Fury knocked out Dillian Whyte in the sixth round of their title fight. After the fight was over, Fury said that he was done with prize fighting in terms of heavyweight boxing. However, he called Ngannou over in the ring with him and talked about what he wants.
Fury said that he wants a special-rules matchup with the heavyweight champion to see who the baddest man in the world is. Per the fighters, they would fight in an octagon with four-ounce gloves but they would only be allowed to box.
I have no idea if the UFC would actually do this, but it would be a massive event. To me, if you’re going to let Conor McGregor box Floyd Mayweather, the UFC should absolutely be open to letting this special-rules fight happen with Ngannou and Fury.
Will it happen?
Tyson Fury’s contract with Top Rank and ESPN also came to a close with his win on Saturday night. That could be another key to having this fight come together. I don’t see any scenario where Bob Arum and Dana White work together so Fury not being tied to Arum is a huge key that opens the door.
The UFC is not going to let Ngannou walk. He’s too big (no pun intended) for their heavyweight division. If it comes down to it, I find it hard to believe that they would walk away from the massive money-maker that would be Francis Ngannou – Tyson Fury.
Here’s my guess of what’s going to happen. Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic are going to fight over the summer for the interim heavyweight championship. The UFC is going to go back to Ngannou with a deal that says he must fight the winner in December.
However, there will be a clause that states if he wins, he can box Tyson Fury in 2023. This would make Ngannou once again bet on himself but it would give him the keys to what he wants.
Can you imagine how much bigger the Fury – Ngannou fight would be if Ngannou was coming off of defeating Jon Jones? However, if Jon Jones or Stipe Miocic were to defeat Ngannou, it would allow the UFC an out from making the fight happen.