UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has not had a great relationship with the UFC ever since he fulfilled his dream by winning the biggest crown in MMA in March 2021, with success against Stipe Miocic.
Ngannou has made his feelings clear about his current contract, but he did return to the Octagon earlier in 2022, defending his title for the first time in a victory over Ciryl Gane. The Cameroon-born fighter was handed the result via a unanimous decision, as he was on top for the majority of the five rounds.
The heavyweight titleholder is now set to be out of action for a sustained period, as he announced he will be undergoing knee surgery, as reported by ESPN. Ngannou picked up a torn ACL and MCL during his preparation for the Gane fight.
The 35-year-old’s current contract with the UFC concludes at the end of 2022, so his latest appearance in the Octagon could have been his last unless another deal is agreed. At this stage, it’s looking unlikely that both parties will agree on a deal.
Ngannou must now consider if he is happy to move away from the UFC. He is currently fourth in the pound-for-pound rankings though that’s subject to change as the list is almost constantly changing. At the next big event with the brand, Sean Strickland will take on Jack Hermansson and the former will have the chance to close the gap on the names at the top of that list. Strickland is the 4/9 favorite in the UFC betting to prevail in that fight and enhance his reputation.
The Predator Could Put Himself Amongst Best in Heavyweight Division in Boxing
The UFC heavyweight champion is thought to be very unhappy with the purse he received for his latest contest with Gane. He has proved to be one of the most destructive performers in the UFC and he feels he should be able to demand more.
A switch to boxing could see Ngannou cash in the reputation he has built as one of the most powerful punchers in the UFC. With the likes of Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, and Deontay Wilder in the heavyweight division, there are some fights that would generate a huge amount of appeal.
Fights against Wilder and Joshua in particularly would be big events as the two former world champions have impressive knockout records in boxing. Given what Ngannou has shown in the Octagon, he could match those two men for punch power.
Ngannou has worked hard on his skills as an MMA fighter over the last few years, but there is no doubt his greatest strength is with his fists. The majority of the damage he does to his opponents comes from explosive punches. If he can work on his technique as a boxer, it may not take him long to be accomplished in the ring.
At this stage, Ngannou’s future is unclear. One thing is for sure though, whatever he decides to do next, there is sure to be a huge amount of interest in the UFC champion as he proved to be box office material.