Ngannou Knocking Down Fury Opens Other Doors
The thought of Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury boxing like they did Saturday night in Abu Dhabi initially seemed silly. It still seems odd now. Fury, the lineal heavyweight boxing champion, should have made quick work of Nganou, who was the heavyweight champion in the UFC before he abandoned the promotion in search of a better deal.
Ngannou, however, showed he took his training seriously. In the third round, Ngannou scored a knockdown, flooring Fury with a combination that sent the Englishman to the canvas, according to online boxing news. While Fury rallied to win a controversial split decision, Ngannou showed he could do nearly anything in combat sports.
That leaves the question of where Ngannou’s career should go from here. While there may be a desire to pursue big purses in boxing, Ngannou did commit to fighting in the PFL. But with business, there could always be changes to a contract or with a fighter if there is enough money to be made.
Rematch With Fury Likely Off the Table
There are many directions that Ngannou’s career can likely follow after Saturday’s fight. But taking another shot at Fury is unlikely. Fury has his sights set on challenging Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship. There hasn’t been an undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing since Lennox Lewis accomplished the feat in the late 1990s.
Fury had initially scheduled the fight with Usyk for December. However, Furry also planned to breeze by Ngannou. After being touched up more than he thought Ngannou was capable of, Fury may revisit the date of the Usyk fight. Neither man had a chance to speak immediately after the fight as the post-fight press conference was canceled.
But it was Ngannou’s work in the ring that spoke the loudest. MMA breaking news had expected him to struggle, but he was able to follow a game plan and pressure Fury.
What is Ngannou’s PFL Contract Like?
The PFL is attempting to become a serious challenger to the UFC for MMA supremacy. What the promotion needs is to find stars capable of bringing in that kind of attention. However, even with Bellator folding, some stars are reluctant to participate in the PFL’s season format.
Winning a championship in the PFL requires winning four fights in a calendar year. When Ngannou signed his deal with the PFL, it was described as a “strategic partnership.” Ngannou was allowed to pursue boxing fights outside the organization.
Ngannou was also guaranteed at least $4 million per fight from the PFL. He also added to his contract that any of his opponents needed to make at least $2 million. During Ngannou’s last fight in the UFC, he supposedly made $650,000.
In addition to the money promised, Ngannou was placed on the PFL’s board of directors, was given equity in the company, and will be part of the PFL’s expansion into Africa. Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, has spoken many times about wanting to give back.
Jones Superfight Likely Off Table
The thoughts of Ngannou locking horns with current UFC champion Jon Jones are non-existent. While the two men teased a fight by facing off in the arena at a PFL event earlier this year, Jones is signed long-term with the UFC. He currently has a contract that spans eight fights.
In addition, Jones just got injured training for a heavyweight championship fight with Stipe Miocic. Jones will likely be out for a while with an injury and may retire. Even if Jones weren’t hurt, the UFC wouldn’t co-promote fights, so Ngannou would have to return to the UFC or Jones to come to the PFL to make that fight happen.
PFL Doesn’t Necessarily Have Worthy Challenger
The 2023 PFL playoffs are going to crown a new champion in November, according to MMA news sites. However, Denis Goltsov and Renan Ferreira seem like they need to be bigger names to pair with Ngannou. Since the World Series of Fighting rebranded as the PFL in 2018, there hasn’t been one heavyweight fighter who has found sustained success or has been able to defend his heavyweight championship.
Ngannou is 17-3 overall in his MMA career. He has frightening power. During his career, Ngannou has finished 12 of his fights via knockout. Ngannou only made one title defense in the UFC after winning the belt at UFC 260 in March 2021. He defended his belt against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 before getting into a dispute over the pay in his contract and going another route.
Ngannou plans to make his PFL debut during a pay-per-view event in 2024. There may be more top talent available by the time that date is set. Bellator is going out of business, and the PFL has been one of the organizations rumored to be in the market to buy the company.
Several Boxers May be Interested in Payday
Several other top boxing heavyweights may be interested in taking on Ngannou. For a few fighters, a fight against Ngannou may provide a bigger payday than fighting another top boxing contender. Deontay Wilder is a good target for Ngannou.
Wilder is a former WBC heavyweight champion who went 0-2-1 against Fury in a memorable trilogy of fighters. After Wilder was knocked out twice by Fury, it is hard to see him breaking into the championship picture.
Both men are known for having excellent power in their respective sports. Wilder has finished 42 of his 43 career wins by knockout. Another English boxer also may be interested in a bout with Ngannou. Anthony Joshua is a former WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion.
After opening his career 22-2, Joshua took a stunning knockout loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. While Joshua won the rematch, it exposed some of his weaknesses. Joshua lost two decisions to Osyk to lose his heavyweight champion status.
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