As he continues to recover from knee surgery, UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has his sights set on potentially the biggest opportunity of his fighting career, and not a defense of his UFC title. Back in March earlier this year, Ngannou underwent successful knee surgery to reconstruct his ACL and repair his MCL which were damaged in his title defense over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January of this year.
Since he became champion at UFC 260, Francis Ngannou has been embattled in a contract dispute with the UFC, and as he continues down his path of recovery, he made has made his intentions known for a showdown with lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury. During their dispute, Ngannou has claimed that the UFC threatened to sue the champion for allegedly having talks with the business partner of boxer and celebrity, Jake Paul.
This past weekend, Francis Ngannou was not only in attendance for Tyson Fury’s victory over Dillian Whyte, but the UFC champion was brought into the ring after Fury’s sixth-round victory where the two discussed a future fight between them. Although Fury hinted at retirement from boxing, he left the door open for a “special-rules” contest between himself and Ngannou, which Ngannou agreed could take place in 2023.
Following his interaction with Fury, the UFC heavyweight champion was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, and made it clear when it came to his next contract with the UFC, he must be given an opportunity to face Fury in a future fight. While he’s open to re-signing with the UFC under a long-term deal, Ngannou said that the conversation doesn’t happen unless Fury is a part of the deal.
“The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion. That’s not an option. It has to be part of the discussion because if that’s not part of the discussion, it never will be. If I sign another contract now, basically the same model of contract, I’m screwed. That’s not happening ever. So we have to figure out a way to implement that into this contract.”
While making his intentions clear, Francis Ngannou would go on to say that he does still want to fight in the UFC, and he believes even after a fight against Tyson Fury, there are plenty of matchups that make sense for him.
“I think the UFC is a good promotion and I want to keep fighting. The Tyson Fury [fight] is not my last fight. I want to keep fighting. After Tyson Fury there’s still a lot of fights. There’s the Jon Jones [fight], the Stipe [Miocic] trilogy.”
Despite the recent rift between himself and the UFC, it’s clear that Francis Ngannou wants to continue fighting for the promotion, he has plenty of opponent options, but none of that matters unless he’s able to fight Tyson Fury outside of the UFC.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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