This past weekend marked one of the most shocking of the year in combat sports, with mixed martial arts seeming to pull one back on boxing in the crossover craze courtesy of Francis Ngannou.
Nine months on from his decision to depart the UFC as champion, Ngannou had his career choices vindicated when he shared the ring with WBC titleholder Tyson Fury at a highly anticipated pay-per-view event in Riyadh.
Ahead of time, most were predicting an easy night at the office for the undefeated all-time boxing great. But what was apparently planned as a stop-off en route to Oleksandr Usyk for “The Gypsy King” turned into much more.
Across 10 rounds, “The Predator” defined expectation, first by knocking Fury down in round three and then by securing a legitimate boxing victory over the WBC champ in the eyes of many fans, fighters, and pundits.
Since Ngannou’s monumental performance in the Middle East, topics have varied from his chances against the likes of Anthony Joshua, a potential MMA return under the PFL banner, and a possible mixed-rules showdown with Deontay Wilder.
Another point of discussion has been the UFC. Given CEO Dana White’s remarks upon Ngannou’s exit, many have flipped the ‘fumbled the bag’ narrative onto the UFC after the organization missed out on the chance to possibly co-promote such an event.
While that’s left many imagining unhappy faces at UFC HQ as Ngannou went the distance on October 28, one former champion-turned-analyst thinks that’s unlikely.
Cormier: Why Would UFC Be Upset After Ngannou vs. Fury?
During a recent episode of ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, ex-light heavyweight and heavyweight UFC champion Daniel Cormier looked back on Ngannou’s triumph and the ongoing fallout.
“DC” is among those having to eat their words after initially appearing critical of Ngannou’s venture into free agency. But given what “The Predator” achieved for himself and MMA, Cormier is more than happy to give the Cameroonian his flowers.
And he thinks that sentiment will be shared by the UFC.
“You see Junior dos Santos, Izzy, Kamaru, the legend Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture,” Cormier said. “So many great mixed martial artists were in attendance last weekend to watch Francis Ngannou do something that was unprecedented, unexpected, and really did turn out better than anyone ever could have expected.
“There’s this idea that the UFC is upset that Francis Ngannou did what he did. Why would they be?” Cormier continued. “Francis Ngannou uplifted the entire sport last weekend. Francis Ngannou went out there as a mixed martial arts world champion, fought the lineal heavyweight champion of the world, and lost by split decision.”
Since his efforts in Saudi Arabia last Saturday, Ngannou has been on a path of ‘I told you so’ jibes on social media and in interviews.
Having not appeared in front of the media since the result, White’s reaction to his former fighter’s display against Fury is not yet known. But having branded the match a “really bad idea” for Ngannou back in 2022, he’s no doubt among those being made to backtrack.
Ok guys 👌🏿😂 pic.twitter.com/W6JJo3UIod
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) October 31, 2023
Read Also: Jon Jones Reacts To Francis Ngannou’s Boxing Debut vs. Tyson Fury: ‘Opens Doors For Everyone’
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