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Francis Ngannou can’t see himself retiring without boxing, says ‘boxing part has to be’ in next UFC deal

UFC 260: Miocic v Ngannou 2
Francis Ngannou
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Francis Ngannou isn’t giving up on his dream of fighting in the squared circle.

The reigning UFC heavyweight champion still has big expectations for a foray into boxing before his fighting days are over, so much so that recently revealed that he plans to ensure the ability to box in a professional capacity is included in his next UFC contract if he ultimately elects to re-sign with the promotion.

“It’s always been down the line. This is something that, I’m not taking my eyes off it,” Ngannou told TMZ in a recent interview. “This is going to happen either way, and even if I stay — even if or when the UFC and I, we finally, we finalize a [new] deal, the boxing part has to be into it, because I can’t see myself to retire without boxing.”

Ngannou, 35, is currently preparing to defend his UFC heavyweight title on January 22 at UFC 270 in a unification match against his former teammate Ciryl Gane, who captured an interim UFC strap in August with a third-round knockout of Derrick Lewis.

Ngannou’s relationship with the promotion has been a rocky one since he captured the heavyweight belt in early 2021 with a knockout of Stipe Miocic. Both the fighter and his manager, Marquel Martin of CAA, have publicly butted heads with UFC President Dana White over a variety of issues, leading White to reveal recently that Ngannou’s contract is nearing an end and note that “everybody has to make their own decisions in life.”

Negotiations on a new UFC deal for Ngannou have hit an impasse heading into UFC 270, however both Martin and his client have expressed a willingness to stay.

“We’re open to get a deal done,” Martin recently told Sirius XM’s Throwing Down with Renee and Miesha. “But they also know my phone number. They know how to get ahold of me. If they had an offer that made sense for them and for Francis, we’re open to entertain it. But it’s a point for me to proactively say, ‘Hey, let’s get a deal done. Let’s get a deal done.’ Because at the end of the day, they know where we’re at. They’ve made it pretty clear where they’re at, so it’s an unfortunate — and I hate to say this — but it feels like a standoff.

“But it’s really not. It’s just like, we would love to be with the UFC, we would love to do business with the UFC, but they’ve chosen to go about the way that they’ve gone, and the way that we don’t feel is right.”

If a new deal does get done, the ability to box will seemingly be a priority for Ngannou.

And if that ever does happen, the power-punching Cameroonian likes his chances against the heavyweight elite.

“All of them. Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder — I would like to test myself to their level,” Ngannou explained. “It’s not the same sport, but although I’m the champion, so I’m in the top in this division, and at the end of the day, it’s just about throwing hands, throwing punches, having a good delivery system to throw those bombs. And I’m sure that if I deliver my own punches pretty good, I can make damage [on them].”