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Curtis Blaydes weighs in on Francis Ngannou’s future: ‘If I’m him, I’m just going to box’

Of all the people waiting to find out what Francis Ngannou’s next move is going to be, Curtis Blaydes is among a small group with a vested interest.

Blaydes, who knocked out Chris Daukaus this past Saturday at UFC Columbus, stands to benefit if Ngannou opts not to sign a new contract with the promotion and moves on to another venture; with two previous losses to the champ, his title prospects dim if Ngannou sticks around.

But there’s another factor Blaydes considers when he looks at Ngannou’s situation, and that ties directly into the dreams of most fighters: get your money and get out. And the way “Razor” sees it, one option stands out among all others.

“If I’m him, I’m just going to box,” Blaydes said Monday on The MMA Hour. “They make a lot of money, and he would make a lot of money against [Anthony] Joshua or Tyson [Fury] or Deontay [Wilder]. He would be rich. So if I’m him, I would let my knee heal up and get ready to box.”

Ngannou currently is on the mend after knee surgery to repair damage he suffered in training for a title unifier against now-former interim champ Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. UFC President Dana White has expressed confidence the champ will re-sign, but Ngannou is in uncharted territory as a potential free agent by the end of his year.

Boxing has been a lifelong dream for Ngannou, who originally strapped on the gloves with the intention of stepping into the squared circle. MMA turned out to be the easier path to gold, but among the Cameroon native’s demands of the UFC is a deal with a carve-out for boxing. The promotion famously co-promoted with Floyd Mayweather and Showtime for the “Money Fight” featuring ex-champ Conor McGregor.

Ngannou’s situation has already drawn increased interest from the current undisputed heavyweight champ, Fury, who’s regularly sparred with his UFC counterpart on social media. Fury’s promoter has said a crossover bout would be a huge boon for all parties involved.

While most boxing experts have written off Ngannou’s chances in the ring against a talent like Fury, Blaydes is optimistic about the UFC champ’s ability to transition.

“Based off the top boxers at heavyweight division I’ve watched, I think he does well,” Blaydes said. “I think he has the reach. We know has the explosion and the athleticism. With those gloves, he may not have the same impact, but I think he can beat any of those guys.”

Blaydes has made pay, or lack thereof, a central issue in his UFC tenure, and he can’t fault Ngannou for seeking the biggest one. Leveraging the notoriety of a decorated octagon run isn’t simply good business, he said – it’s a blueprint worth following.

“It’s always good to know that there’s something on the other side of MMA, because you can’t fight forever, and at the end, you just want to get your money,” he said. “That’s always going to be a good avenue. If you’re doing up your name and brand in the UFC and MMA, you have the opportunity to transition over into the boxing world, and you can make a lot of money at the end of your career.”