Francis Ngannou is already plotting his next move.
That’s according to Ngannou’s longtime representative Marquel Martin, who revealed Wednesday on The MMA Hour that the former UFC heavyweight champion has been weighing his options following his spectacular professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury and is close to settling on his next move.
“I think we see him again Q1 of [next] year, whether that’s with his partners in PFL or a hybrid [fight] of some sort,” Martin said on The MMA Hour. “I think all options are on the table, and it’s really going to be exciting of, who wants to really fight him now? It’s not so much Francis chasing anymore, which is a good situation to be in.”
Ngannou, 37, stunned the combat sports world this past Saturday by fighting to a split decision against Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Although he officially lost the bout on two judges’ scorecards, Ngannou still pushed Fury to his limits and even knocked down boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion in a performance that blew away the expectations of many and left boxing lifers such as Eddie Hearn and Carl Frampton singing his praises.
The question of Ngannou’s next step is now one of the biggest and most lucrative to be answered in all of combat sports. Saudi royal adviser Turki Alalshikh said Monday on The MMA Hour that he has already submitted a bid to retain the heavyweight for his next boxing match following the Fury loss. On that same episode, Ngannou himself and PFL founder Donn Davis also entertained the idea of a bout against Deontay Wilder under the PFL banner — whether that’s under MMA rules, boxing rules, or a rule set mixing the two — while Hearn publicly lobbied for a crossover matchup against Anthony Joshua, potentially held in Africa, which he believes could be “one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport.”
Martin said Wednesday that Ngannou’s decision “is probably 90 percent made,” and replied in the affirmative that one of Fury, Wilder, and Joshua are involved.
“Those are some of the options that we’ve been discussing for a long time,” Martin said. “I think what kind of emerged as of late was Anthony Joshua, right? We’ve had the conversations with Deontay. And obviously Tyson’s there, but now Joshua can be a potential suitor. Obviously, Eddie Hearn, I have a ton of respect for him as a promoter and he does a great job. He thinks that Anthony Joshua can can make light work of Francis, and it’s just — actually, the team, we were hoping before the Tyson Fury stuff ever came up came to be about, we’re hoping that we got a chance to fight Anthony Joshua.
“I personally that’s easy work for Francis. And I think Anthony Joshua didn’t really want that, but now, if he’s smart, and Eddie’s a smart guy, there is something to be said for Africa and those two, right? Knowing that AJ is Nigerian, I believe. You can make the case for Deontay Wilder, because stylistically, power for power, everyone wants to answer those questions. And I’ve been saying that publicly for quite a while. Francis, his power is unmatched by any human being on Earth. So you have that spectacle,” Martin continued.
“And then of course, I know Francis as a competitor, as an athlete, he’s going to want to prove to the world, ‘Not only did I beat [Fury] the first time, but I’ll beat him again even more convincingly if you guys ever [agree to it].’ So that’s the exciting part. So Francis is going to make his choice, he’s going to make that f*** you money that we talk about.”
Martin declined to tip his hand regarding the direction Ngannou is leaning, however he did reveal his personal preference for what he’d like to see from “The Predator” next.
“Knowing that Tyson is there, I would like to add to the drama — I would love to see Deontay come into MMA and test his hand in a mixed rules [fight], right?” Martin said. “And then that would set up that kind of narrative, just so the world can see the difference between the two. That’s why I like to show it from a standpoint of, like, I don’t think MMA fighters get enough credit for what they do in the world of combat sports. So I’d love to see that, right? And then knowing that Tyson has his fight with Usyk, afterward there’s going to be an opportunity to do the rematch.”
“I have too much respect for Tyson to even think that he wouldn’t consider [the rematch] as a competitor,” Martin added. “When when you’re in your prime at the top of your game, like Tyson Fury is, you’re not going to sleep unless you yourself know that you won the fight fair and square. Right? In my mind, even his team, seeing them at the airport, his team didn’t have that vibe of like, ‘We just won.’ His team had a vibe of like, ‘We got away with one.’ And I would like to think that as a competitor, that he would welcome that rematch.
“But there’s nothing but mutual respect between those two. I think it was an amazing fight. I think Francis did enough to win, but obviously it didn’t go our way. But next time you guys will see for sure who’s a clear victor, and that’s Francis Ngannou. He’s the best combat sports athlete in the world. He’s the best draw. He has the most power. He has the best story. You name it, Francis is No. 1. And he should be treated as such. And hopefully he’s done enough to earn the world’s respect.”