There might be trouble in paradise for UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Recently, UFC president Dana White shot down the idea of Ngannou taking on Tyson Fury in a boxing match, calling it a “silly conversation.”
Now Ngannou has to decide if he will continue with the biggest mixed martial arts promotion if one of his key demands isn’t met by the organization.
“The Predator” has made it well known that his UFC contract renewal negotiations are based on his ability to box and get a pay raise. Looking at White’s compromise for one of his biggest stars in Conor McGregor, the fight for Ngannou seemed like a no-brainer until it was not.
“The difference was, the Conor-Floyd thing became bigger than, you know, everywhere I went, people were talking about it, all the media was talking about it, fans wanted to see it,” White said to TMZ.
“Nobody’s beating my door down for this fight, and I love Tyson Fury. I’m friends with Tyson; he’s one of the greatest boxers of all time, one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time going in against one of my MMA guys, it just — we saw this movie before; we know how this story ends.”
When White allowed McGregor to fight Mayweather in 2017, the compromise netted the second-largest boxing pay-per-view event ever. The first was Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Mayweather said McGregor was the right “dance partner” for his 50th and last professional bout, which yielded the tenth-round TKO of the former UFC double champion when it was all said and done.
Tyson Fury is arguably the most significant heavyweight draw in boxing today. His last fight at Wembley Stadium in his native United Kingdom against Dillian Whyte catered to a sold-out crowd of 94,000.
The undefeated 6-foot-9 boxer is a phenom in combat sports, having toppled the career of Deontay Wilder and taking the love and adoration of the American fans with him. As Fury’s star rose, Ngannou began floating the idea on social media of the two fighting each other. Fury even brought Ngannou into the ring post-fight to declare their match as the only one he had considered since his retirement from the sport.
“The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion,” Ngannou said on an episode of “The MMA Hour.” “That’s not an option. It has to be part of the discussion, because if that’s not part of the discussion, it will never be.”
Ngannou’s UFC deal should have expired this year. However, when he defeated Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January, it activated the “champion’s clause,” which added time. Ngannou says his contract is up in December, by which time he will have recovered from his recent knee surgery.
However, White feels his performance against Gane is another reason a boxing match would not work for Ngannou since he used a wrestling-heavy strategy to win the unanimous decision.
“And he just fought Cyril Gane and wrestled him. It is a silly conversation,” White continued.
Ngannou claims he has been fighting for $500,000 or $600,000 per event, and he wants a new financial deal. A fight against Fury would yield more than any UFC match he would ever book, but, unfortunately, Dana White is not feeling it for the Cameroonian star.