Francis Ngannou’s departure from the UFC in early 2023 already looks likely to be the most notable personnel change for the world’s largest MMA promotion this year. ‘The Predator’ had been butting heads with the organization going back a couple of years, and eventually elected to pursue other opportunities that his former deal with the UFC had prevented.
Part of Ngannou’s plan appears to be a high-profile boxing match against champion-level heavyweights Deontay Wilder and/or Tyson Fury. The crossover from MMA to boxing has become a major fad in the wake of Conor McGregor’s 2017 battle with Floyd Mayweather—for what ended up as a highly-lucrative venture.
However, if fans expected ‘The Notorious’ Irishman to applaud Ngannou’s decision-making, the former two-division champion still feels that the UFC is the place to be, despite the money that boxing offers.
“What, to go out and get a little side quest and see if they can get some boxing dollars and all the rest of it?” he told Ariel Helwani during a special in-studio interview with the MMA Hour. “For me, the UFC is pinnacle. It’s the company I love, it’s the company I wish to be with for the rest of my career.
“So I’ve got two fights left in my contract, and I hope we can continue.”
McGregor specifically pointed out the Francis Ngannou situation, where he says the Cameroonian-born fighter may have made a mistake leaving the company, given the perks that come with being a part of the promotion’s roster.
“If you think of Ngannou… Think of all he got. He was in that P.I. using all the equipment. There was no dough on that. There would’ve been no charge on that. He’s getting accommodations, he’s getting everything sorted. I thought he made an error, to be honest.
“I wasn’t sure why he done that, to be honest. It kind of took the shine off from how it went. But, look, I wish him well.”
McGregor just wrapped up the filming of TUF 31 against opposing coach Michael Chandler. The two men are expected to face off at a date sometime later this year, pending McGregor’s re-entry into the USADA testing pool.
About the author: Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments. (full bio)