After shocking the world Saturday night in a star-making performance against Tyson Fury in his professional boxing debut, Francis Ngannou is left with no shortage of options. On Monday’s edition of “The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani,” Francis Ngannou dropped an expected name in an unexpected way: Deontay Wilder but in an MMA fight.
When Helwani suggested the crossover combat theme continue with Wilder stepping into a cage, Francis Ngannou revealed that an MMA bout with the former WBC champion is being discussed behind closed doors.
“That has been in the discussion. That’s something that can potentially happen. Deontay Wilder for a couple of months, for a little while, has been training MMA because there’s an option here. Nothing is set, but some things have been coming to my attention, so that’s something that makes sense.”
According to Francis Ngannou, Wilder is “very serious about MMA” and is intent on stepping into a cage. In February, Wilder floated the idea of a two-fight deal that would see the consensus heaviest hitters in combat sports meet as boxers and MMA fighters.
Later in the show, PFL founder Donn Davis described a bout between Ngannou and Wilder in four-ounce gloves “fascinating” and a “wild fight.” Davis also confirmed that Wilder and another unnamed fighter are currently in talks to meet Ngannou for his PFL debut with Africa, Saudi Arabia and France mentioned as possible destinations.
Francis Ngannou vs Tyson Fury 2?
After taking the undefeated Fury to a hotly debated split decision, a rematch between the two would make for another obvious next step. Ngannou said if it were to happen, March would be ideal. However, the roadblock of Fury’s next scheduled defense of WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk stands in the way.
Ngannou chalks up the obstacle to Fury looking past the challenge he presented.
“I think because they underestimated me earlier and stepped out to sign the Usyk fight…they basically have their hands tied,” Ngannou told Helwani.
Even though Fury vs. Usyk appears to be a done deal, including Usyk appearing in the ring Saturday to begin the promotion run, Ngannou believes that the damage he did to the “Gypsy King” will prevent him from making the original Dec. 23 date.
“I’m not sure if that Usyk fight is happening or anytime soon. I don’t think he’s in the position to fight in December. I mean, I saw a picture of him and I’m like ‘this guy is not fighting in December’…I don’t know what the medical recommendation is in boxing, but I’m not so sure about your fight with Usyk.”
Adding credibility to Ngannou’s belief, Fury’s promoter Frank Warren told Boxing News that while Usyk is next, the bout will have to be delayed until “early in the next year” because the lineal champ “needs protecting from himself.”
The door opens even wider for Ngannou considering what his team was told moments after the final bell. In a ringside interview with MMAJunkie’s Mike Bohn, Ngannou’s coach Dewey Cooper said that WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman promised that the Cameroonian did enough to earn a top 10 ranking.
That ranking will empower Ngannou to entertain other high profile boxing matches with the likes of number 2 ranked Anthony Joshua or number 5 ranked Andy Ruiz. If Fury’s extension request complicates his future plans any further, Ngannou could realistically challenge Usyk for his multiple championships as well.
As for which ruleset Ngannou would prefer to fight under next, the former UFC champion said that he is equally excited for boxing and MMA but expects to make a decision by the end of the week.