UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou made a surprise appearance in the ring Saturday after Tyson Fury’s triumphant win over Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium.
Tyson indicated his knockout of Whyte could be his final appearance in boxing, but he welcomed a meeting with Ngannou, who said the fight could place under a hybrid ruleset.
“I’m the boxing heavyweight champion, [he’s the] UFC heavyweight champion,” Fury told ESPN after his win. “He’s in great shape – look at the muscles on him.”
Ngannou, who’s currently on the mend from a knee injury suffered in his most recent UFC title defense, declared, “I want to find out who is the baddest motherf***** in the planet.”
“Good man, Francis,” Fury replied with a shout.
Fury and Ngannou have traded shots online for the past year, talking up a potential fight in four-ounce MMA gloves. But until Ngannou defeated Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 to unify the heavyweight title and fulfill the terms of his current UFC contract, the prospect was distant at best.
Ngannou expressed frustration with his pay and said he would not sign a new contract with the UFC unless it included the option to box. UFC President Dana White was confident a new deal could be reached when Ngannou returned from his native Cameroon.
But Ngannou seemed dead set on meeting Fury when he recovered from a recent knee surgery.
“I’ve got a couple months, and then I’ll be right back on my feet,” he told Fury.
“He’s a good looking chappie, isn’t he? Have you got a big [penis]?” replied the WBC heavyweight boxing champ, bringing an embarrassed laugh from Ngannou.
Fury told the 90,000-plus fans at Wembley he wanted to bring home a signature win after besting Deontay Wilder in a trilogy this past fall. The third fight took place after Wilder’s camp exercised an option for an immediate rematch, which short-circuited a potential showdown with WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO champ Anthony Joshua. Then, Joshua lost a fight to Oleksandr Usyk in his most recent outing this past September.
Fury may be done with boxing but clearly sees the value in a meeting with Ngannou, as does his promoter.
“This is going to be a very special fight like never before seen in the history of our sport,” Fury said. “We’re not talking two light guys, [240 pounds. he’s 270 pounds, so it’s going to be an explosive fight when it happens.”
“It’s going to be a hybrid fight with different type of rules,” Ngannou added. “MMA gloves in the ring, kind of like mix-up. A little different.”
Ngannou has said he will be a free agent at the end of 2022, when a champion’s clause expires in his UFC contract. The clause binds him to the promotion, he said, for three fights or one year.
“By the end of this year, we’re going to sort it out and ready to go,” Ngannou told BT Sport.
"Definitely sometime next year. 2023. That fight will happen!"— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) April 23, 2022
"Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou in Africa. The Rumble in the Jungle 2!"@francis_ngannou is adamant the @Tyson_Fury fight will happen! #FuryWhyte pic.twitter.com/h4wuQGGsvO