Francis Ngannou paid more than $7 million to buy his freedom.
Now “The Predator” is a free agent with the right to compete wherever he chooses after winning his unconditional release from UFC. There was talk of a potential boxing match against heavyweight kingpin Tyson Fury; however, “The Gypsy King” may no longer be interested if Ngannou doesn’t have the UFC marketing machine behind him.
“The UFC champion going and doing something with Tyson Fury had Tyson Fury’s attention, just like Conor [McGregor] had Floyd [Mayweather’s],” former title challenger Chael Sonnen told his YouTube subscribers. “The two-time simultaneous champion of the UFC, with Dana White on stage, had value. The only question for Tyson Fury is, ‘do I still want to box and if I do, is it going to be against [Jon] Jones or Ciryl [Gane]?’”
Ngannou, 36, is known for his devastating knockout power and racked up 16 finishes in 17 wins inside the cage. But the weapons that made “The Predator” so unique in mixed martial arts (MMA) may not translate well to boxing when compared to brick-fisted titans like Deontay Wilder, who not only have the power but also have the technique.
“As analysts, there’s not a world where Francis Ngannou beats Tyson Fury,” UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith said on Michael Bisping’s “Believe You Me” podcast (transcribed by Middle Easy). “Francis Ngannou is just a regular dude as a heavyweight boxer. He’s uncommon in MMA. He’s unique. He’s very special, but in professional boxing, he’s average at best. At best, he’s an average puncher. He’s a below average boxer. He’s below average in his footwork and movement. He’s below average in his defense. He’s not gonna fare that well as a heavyweight professional boxer. He’s gonna get one big boxing fight and then the ‘new’ is going to wear off. We’re gonna see how good he actually is and be like, ‘Oh f*ck. He’s not that good.’”
Fortunately for Ngannou, MMA promotions like PFL and Bellator MMA are likely to pay him handsomely while also affording him the opportunity to compete in the “sweet science” at his leisure, similar to the recent offer made to former UFC welterweight Nate Diaz. Just don’t expect the Jake Pauls or the KSIs of the world to be signing on the dotted line.