With UFC 270 just around the corner headlined by Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou vs. interim kingpin Ciryl Gane, you can excuse reporters at the UFC Vegas 46 press conference for focusing on that upcoming fight rather than the action they witnessed inside UFC Apex.
As usual, though, the discussion focused less on the fight between Ngannou and Gane and more on the battle between Ngannou and UFC as “The Predator” fights out the last bout on his contract. UFC President, Dana White, simply shrugged when asked if he thought a new deal could be reached.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Listen, it’s not like we haven’t been in this position before. It happens sometimes, you know? And we’ll see how it plays out. It doesn’t matter. He’s going to fight on Saturday and whatever happens is going to happen.”
As for Tyson Fury recently challenging Ngannou to a boxing match in mixed martial arts (MMA) gloves?
“Listen man, these guys ... none of this surprises me,” White said. “It’s like these boxing guys need guys to fight. You know what I mean? And yeah, no, it doesn’t surprise me at all.”
At this point, Fury can fight any top boxing Heavyweight and it’ll be big. He’s still got the Anthony Joshua “super” fight in his back pocket. But, there’s something to be said about adding a UFC Heavyweight champion to his resume. That’s not just ridiculous money ... that’s great stuff for the legacy, too.
Ngannou has made it clear in recent interviews that any new contract would require a significant pay bump and the ability for him to box.
“It’s always been down the line, this is something I’m not taking my eyes off of,” Ngannou said in a recent interview with TMZ Sports. “It’s gonna happen, either way. Even if, when the UFC and I finalize a deal, the boxing part has to be into it because I can’t see myself retire without boxing.”
“Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder. I would like to test myself to that level. It’s not the same sport, although I’m the champion, I’m in the top in this division.”
Ngannou started out boxing before getting into MMA, so it’s not surprising that the massive Cameroonian would want to return to his first love. The much larger paychecks certainly don’t hurt, either: Fury earned more than $25 million for each of his three fights against Deontay Wilder off pay-per-view (PPV) buys of 200,000, 800,000, and 600,000, respectively.
Ngannou may not stand much of a chance against “The Gypsy King,” but that one fight would set him up financially for life. Which, after borrowing money to afford fight camps as he makes $500,000 per bout, probably sounds pretty good to “The Predator.”