But for all of White’s issues with Ngannou, he couldn’t help but give the ex-UFC heavyweight champ respect for going the distance with the heavyweight boxing champ, who won a narrow split decision this past Saturday in Saudi Arabia.
“The fact that he went 10 rounds with Tyson Fury is crazy,” White said. “He just went 10 rounds with Tyson Fury, Conor [McGregor] made it 9 or 10 with Floyd, Anthony Pettis just beat Roy Jones Jr. – I know Roy is friggin’ 60 years old or whatever, but I don’t know what the hell is going on. It’s crazy.
“I didn’t see the fight, but the fact that he went 10 rounds is unbelievable.”
White’s shift wasn’t trivial considering his initial reaction to the fight’s booking, which he dismissed as a “gimmick” fight that Ngannou had miscalculated in choosing in part over re-signing with the UFC.
Asked by Trump Jr. about the possibility of UFC fighters crossing over to boxing for big paydays and whether Ngannou’s defection “hurt” the promotion, White was surprisingly diplomatic for a man who guaranteed “The Predator” would never again fight in the octagon.
“I don’t care,” he said. “Listen, these guys, at some point, everybody is going to move on. Everybody has to do what’s right for them and make money for their families, so whatever they’ve got to do, they’ve got to do.”
That didn’t mean White necessarily wanted to open the door himself to give fighters boxing opportunities. He again dismissed the idea of getting into the boxing promotion business, agreeing with Trump Jr. that it was “broken” because so many people were interested in Ngannou vs. Fury and influencer boxing. He didn’t want to fix it, however.
“Every time I get on the phone with one of these boxing guys, I go, ‘What the f*** am I doing?’” White said. “Am I out of my mind? These guys are all horrible to deal with.”
Trump Jr. suggested that the pay structure of boxing could be to blame for the corruption in the sport; promoters typically take a much smaller cut of the profits from an event while fighters take the lion’s share. In the UFC, fighters make between 15-20 percent of the revenue while the promotion reportedly bears more in-house costs of event production.
“When you see the UFC guys, they go do boxing, they’re still a different sort of pay structure in boxing,” Trump Jr. said. “Is that aspect of it, there’s just too much money that it’s broken, that it just sort of lends itself to corruption. There’s no real control, right?”
“It’s not even the corruption – you can’t built a business off it,” White responded. “The key to having something is building a business. When you talk about the NFL, the NBA, MLB, they took football, basketball and baseball and created a business out of it. That’s what we did with fighting, and it just can’t be done with boxing.”