Tyson Fury may have won the fight in Saudi Arabia on October 28, but it was Francis Ngannou who took his reputation to greater heights. Even with a loss, Ngannou was a winner by becoming the most wanted man in combat sports.
The former UFC heavyweight champion, who showed interest in boxing before focusing on MMA, dropped the WBC heavyweight champion in the third round of their crossover fight. Ngannou took it to Fury, who showed signs of desperation throughout the contest.
Fury won via split decision, but all anyone could talk about was Ngannou’s performance, especially as a boxing novice.
Calls for a rematch were immediate, with Fury’s WBC title on the line this time. It is a possibility now that Nganou is ranked by the organization.
That fight would likely come after the undisputed heavyweight title fight between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, initially scheduled for December 23. That fight now looks destined for 2024 after Fury suffered damage in the Ngannou clash, which many thought wasn’t possible.
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Ngannou has become a hot commodity, with fights in boxing and MMA on the table. Signed with the Professional Fighters League after leaving the UFC, “The Predator” is now the flagship name in MMA and the sky’s the limit.
The amiable Cameroonian can literally become the Shohei Ohtani of combat sports by competing in boxing and MMA whenever the moment moves him.
So, with plenty of options, what’s next for Francis Ngannou?
When Ngannou signed with the PFL, it included the following benefits:
The plan is for Ngannou to enter the PFL SmartCage in March 2024.
Ngannou may not compete in the traditional PFL $1 million tournament, but that could change. It is unknown who his opponent would be at the moment, but he could face the winner of the PFL heavyweight tournament final between Renan Ferreira and Denis Goltsov, which airs on November 24.
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If the PFL purchases Bellator, which will no longer run on Showtime come 2024, and signs several fighters, he could face Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader or Linton Vassell.
Given the details surrounding his PFL contract, Ngannou continuing to box appears more likely to happen. Upset with the result of the Fury fight, Ngannou showed interest in the rematch.
“We can run it back again, and I’m sure I will get the better,” Ngannou said after the fight. “This was my first boxing match. It was a great experience. I’m not giving any excuse. I know I came up short. But I’m going to go back and work harder with a little more experience and a little more feeling of the game. And I will come back even stronger.”
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If a Fury fight doesn’t happen soon, Ngannou could fight some of the top heavyweight hitters in boxing. This could include Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Zhilei Zhang, who have no fights scheduled at the time of writing.
Fights against lower-ranked boxers might be the play in terms of progression, though promoters will want something to sell.