One of the biggest stories in MMA this year has been UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s flirtations with the world of professional boxing. Having fought out his current UFC contract, Ngannou could become a free agent at the end of this year, and “The Predator” has made it clear that for him to re-sign with the UFC, he would need to be allowed to also pursue boxing matches — specifically, a bout with heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
And while many fans and UFC president Dana White believe the fight is “a waste of time, energy, and money,” heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall disagrees.
“Who doesn’t want to see that?” Aspinall said on The MMA Hour.
“I want to see it with MMA gloves, because I actually believe — usually I’m rooting for Tyson and of course I would be in this one, but if Francis hits with them little gloves, he is so dangerous. He’s very unorthodox and I think that if Fury was going to lose to anyone in boxing, it would have been [Deontay] Wilder because he’s so unorthodox. And I think a similar kind of thing with Francis. And if you alter the rules slightly and put Tyson with the smaller gloves, I think it’s a little bit closer than people might think.”
While a fight between Fury and Ngannou is far from a certainty at this point, things do seem to be trending in that direction. Both men have explicitly stated that they want the fight and Fury even brought Ngannou into the ring to promote the future bout following his knockout of Dillian Whyte in April. Fury was even the one to propose they do the fight in MMA gloves as a way to level the playing field, and while Aspinall doesn’t believe it will truly make the fight even, he does believe that such a change would make things more interesting.
“[Fury] would steamroll Francis, but I would give Francis a fair shot,” Aspinall said. “I wouldn’t be surprised either way. With them small gloves and Francis hits like an absolute truck, so you never know. You never know with them little gloves on because it’s different, it’s way different with the small gloves.”
As the No. 7-ranked heavyweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, Aspinall has some familiarity with Ngannou, and the England native is more than familiar with Fury, having spent some time training with Fury. In fact, Fury’s father John Fury has said he expects Aspinall to win the UFC title and make his own crossover into boxing someday.
For now though, Aspinall has MMA to focus on. He is set to headline the UFC’s return to London when he takes on Curtis Blaydes on July 23.