Francis Ngannou believes he’ll decide his next step this week after a near-upset of heavyweight boxing champ Tyson Fury.
At the moment, Ngannou’s potential future includes an offer from Turki Alalshikh, the Saudi royal adviser who shepherded his fight with Fury into existence. Alalshikh appeared before Ngannou Monday on The MMA Hour to reveal a yet-undisclosed bid to retain the heavyweight after his split-decision loss to Fury.
Also on the list of possibilities is a possible MMA fight with former heavyweight boxing champ Deontay Wilder, who earlier this year welcomed a trip to the cage and, according to the former UFC champion Ngannou, is currently training MMA.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Ngannou said Monday. “In fact, we have spoken about that. That has been in the discussions. So that’s something that can potentially happen. Nothing is set, but it’s been something been coming to my attention, so that’s something that makes sense. He’s really serious about MMA. …
“It’s going to be a different beast for him. Unlike this time that I was the one experiencing the mountain, climbing the mountain. He’s going to be the one climbing the mountain because we watched this, we all watched the fight last, last Saturday.”
“Tyson tried some takedowns,” Ngannou added with a laugh. “I think I tried some takedowns, some clinches, and even some elbows. But if it was an MMA fight, it would have been in deep trouble.”
Ngannou is less sold on the move that, from a large portion of the combat sports world, makes the most sense, which is a boxing rematch with Fury, who escaped Riyadh with a split decision win after 10 surprisingly competitive rounds with the boxing neophyte.
The ex-UFC champ believes the shocking result may have ensured Fury instead turned his attention to a planned title unifier with Oleksandr Usyk on Dec. 23, the date announced prior to this past Saturday’s crossover fight.
“I think because they underestimated me earlier, and then stepped out and signed the Usyk fight, and now they’re like, ‘Oh.’ They basically, a little bit, have their hands tied. And in fact, I’m not sure if that music fight is happening, or anytime soon, because I don’t think [Fury is] in the position to fight in December.”
By visual evidence alone, Ngannou emerged looking far readier to take on his next challenge, looking virtually unmarked in a side-by-side photo with Fury, who sported a huge black eye.
“I’m like, this guy is not fighting in December,” Ngannou said. “Like even me, I’m not hurt, but I’m not fighting in December. But him even less, right?”
What’s beyond dispute is that the entire landscape has changed for both Ngannou and Fury following the improbable result. Leading up to the fight, Ngannou was roundly counted out by virtually everyone not in his corner, and though he didn’t win the fight, he emerged with perhaps the greatest moral victory in combat sports history.
Ngannou is taking that in stride, even with a “slight bitter taste” left by judges Alan Krebs (95-94) and Juan Carlos Pelayo (96-93), who scored the fight for Fury. What’s driving the ex-UFC champ now is the chance to show the world he can do even better than before. That means stepping on the gas early instead of biding his time out of fear he’d run out of gas in deep waters.
“Because from the first round … I’m thinking already Round 10,” Ngannou said. “So for some reason, I’m holding it back a little bit like, ‘Oh, I don’t know, man…. I never been here. All that lack of experience is what was playing against me. I’m like, don’t over extend yourself and then get [tired]. But I think next time is going to be different, because I have a little bit of the feeling of it.
“I put my finger in the water, and I now know the temperature.”