The UFC 270 main event is all set up to answer some big questions. And not just ‘who’s the real, undisputed heavyweight champion?’ For Francis Ngannou there may be a lot more on the line than just his gold hardware. Since picking up the title in a win over Stipe Miocic last March, the world’s largest MMA promotion has found themselves at loggerheads with the ‘Predator’, in large part over his desire to enter the world of boxing alongside his career inside the Octagon.
And with his upcoming fight against Ciryl Gane, Ngannou sounds dead set on the idea that, whatever comes next, it won’t involve him fighting with the UFC under his old contract. But, can White & Co. find a middle ground with the Cameroonian-born Frenchman? Or will 2022 see a departure for Ngannou from the Endeavor-owned MMA organization?
UFC president Dana White recently sat down with ESPN, and when talk turned to Ngannou and his future, he was quick to admit that he didn’t have any easy answers to give.
“I honestly don’t know,” White said, when asked what he felt was on the horizon for Ngannou. “And you know, my philosophy has always been, ‘Listen, if you don’t want to be with us? That’s not fun for anybody.’ So, we’ll see how this fight plays out and we’ll see where we go from here.
“Like I said – I’ve been saying this now for two weeks – I ran into him two weeks ago at a restaurant and, literally, our tables were right next to each other. So, the universe kinda got us together and we talked and we had a good conversation. It was something that needed to happen, one way or another. However this ends up, that conversation needed to happen. It did, and it was a very good conversation. We’ll see how it goes.”
The UFC did partner up with Floyd Mayweather to allow Conor McGregor to step into the boxing ring while still under contract. But they were reportedly quick to halt a similar effort from Georges St-Pierre, when he hoped to take a boxing match against Oscar De La Hoya in 2021—despite the fact that GSP has been retired from MMA competition since 2017. Similarly, Roy Jones Jr. suggested back in 2014 that the UFC was the major sticking point in setting up a potential boxing match with Anderson Silva.
And while Dana White has teased for years that he would be getting into the boxing business himself at some point, plans for some new Zuffa/Endeavor branded pugilistic venture never seem to move past the pipe-dream phase. Could Ngannou be the man to change all that? The answer could very well hinge on the result of UFC 270 and how willing the UFC really is to let him walk away in his prime.