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Chatri Sityodtong: ‘Our heavyweights would smoke’ Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou is at an interesting point in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. With Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract negotiations brewing in the background, “The Predator” has also teased interest in boxing.

In the case that the Cameroonian champion parts ways with UFC and sticks with MMA, he’d have options stretching far and wide, including Singapore’s ONE Championship. However, if the possibility arises for the two parties to talk, ONE Founder Chatri Sityodtong doesn’t think the end result would play in Ngannou’s favor.

“I like Francis Ngannou, but I think our Heavyweights would smoke him,” Sityodtong told media following ONE: X this past Saturday (March 26, 2022) (h/t South China Morning Post). “He’s just not a complete fighter. For sure, if you ask any expert martial artist, you look at [ONE interim champion] Anatoly Malykhin — Russian national pedigree wrestler, dynamite in his hands. Much faster than Francis, much better ground game, black-belt level.

“He was also a submission champion in Europe,” he continued. “You look at [undisputed champion] Arjan Bhullar, wrestling, boxing. Francis is not very impressive on the ground. He’s got big, looping punches, he’s not as technical of a boxer as Anatoly or even Arjan.”

Undisputed ONE Heavyweight champion, Arjan Bhullar (8-1), enjoyed a stint in UFC that saw him go 3-1 and leave on a two-fight win streak. Upon his arrival in ONE, he defeated Mauro Cerilli before scoring a technical knockout over then-champion and former UFC veteran, Brandon Vera.

The crossover between ONE and UFC fighters has seen mixed results with the most famous instance being the Ben Askren and Demetrious Johnson trade. Askren went 1-2 in UFC before retiring from the sport, whereas Johnson is 3-1 in ONE and just picked up a second round rear-naked choke submission victory against Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a mixed-rules bout at ONE: X (watch highlights).

“We have a few other signings in the Heavyweight division we haven’t announced yet that are just killers,” Sityodtong said. “So I think this is year, the last several months especially, we have truly arrived in terms of our Heavyweight division being neck and neck with the UFC’s.”

Ngannou (11-3) last suffered defeat in back-to-back outings with Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis in 2018, but has since won six in a row with five of those ending via strikes.