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Incredible Fury vs. Ngannou clash proves Dana White and UFC (not Francis) fumbled the bag

Boxing In Riyadh: Tyson Fury v Francis Ngannou Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Is there anyone on the planet feeling better than Francis Ngannou right now?

When he opted to leave the UFC championship belt behind last year, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Fight fans were understandably disappointed that dream fights like Jon Jones vs. Ngannou were no longer going to happen, but there was also an ugly shade of possession. How dare Ngannou buck the norm and opt to bet on himself, standing in opposition of the UFC machine? A machine which, of course, did its best to immediately deny his existence from its history.

When Ngannou didn’t immediately announce a high-profile boxing match or lucrative fight contract with a rival promotion, the calls of “Francis fumbled the bag” were f—king endless. Every dips—t with an $8 blue check next to their Twitter profile was lambasting his drawing power and fighting ability alike, because Ngannou dared to forge his own path.

Prior to tonight, that bet had already paid off. Scoring Tyson Fury at all guaranteed Ngannou a payout that UFC never would have allowed, as well as a platform where Ngannou was the star and center attraction. His Professional Fighters League (PFL) premium is similarly massive, and on the whole, “The Predator” seemed to have got everything he wanted from free agency.

It wasn’t enough for the “fumbled the bag” crowd though. No, Ngannou was just sacrificing himself to Fury, as well as ducking stiffer competition in UFC. Shameful! Embarrassing! Foul and unsportsmanlike behavior!

His fight versus Fury was a stupid “waste of time, energy, and money,” according to UFC CEO Dana White.

Ngannou shut all that garbage talk down in the third when a counter left hook floored Tyson Fury. Ngannou set the shot up in similar fashion to how he fell Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem, standing his ground and interrupting their offense with his own far more hellacious blow.

Even if Fury pummeled Ngannou from that point forward, the point was proven. Ngannou came to compete, and he has the power to take the best boxer in the world off his feet. This was no farce! With that single shot, Ngannou’s performance was elevated far above Conor McGregor’s showing versus Floyd Mayweather, a bout UFC happily rode all the way to the bank.

That’s not even what happened here though. Fury fought his way back and picked up rounds on the strength of his active jab and stiff lead right hand, but it was never anything less than competitive. The numbers remained consistently close round-to-round, and Ngannou was never rocked, let alone knocked down. “The Predator” had Fury throwing elbows!

The eighth round was the true highlight for Ngannou fans. 24 minutes into a boxing match, most any MMA fighter is useless in the ring, too fatigued and arm-slow to throw meaningful punches. Ngannou, conversely, was shaking off Fury’s attempts to clinch, clubbing him upside the head, and opening new sources of bleeding across Fury’s mug.

It was incredible.

Ultimately, Ngannou lost the split-decision. He was just a single round on a single scorecard away from walking away with the greatest upset in boxing history. An 0-1 start to his professional boxing career, sure, but it’s the furthest thing from a loss in the big picture!

When Ngannou returns to MMA in a few months, he does so having proven himself — YET AGAIN — as a singularly remarkable talent. His life story is genuinely unbelievable, and he continues to surpass all possible odds and expectations. Saudi Arabia treated Francis Ngannou like the super star UFC could have promoted, and I expect a popularity boom in response.

Remember: Conor wasn’t Conor until UFC invested truckloads of money into a “World Tour” ahead of his fight versus Aldo. Ngannou just got a similar boost!

Consequently, there’s now an even bigger demand to see Ngannou in the ring. He nearly beat Tyson freakin’ Fury in his debut! The rematch will obviously always be there, and it’ll draw more attention than the first go. However, a showdown with Deontay Wilder could be even more massive! Sure, neither quite managed to defeat “The Gypsy King,” but who wouldn’t want to see a pair of ridiculously powerful punchers try to take lumps off the other? It’s the easiest sell imaginable.

The best Heavyweight MMA fighter in the world shined brightly in the boxing ring tonight, and neither UFC nor Dana White is going to make another dime off him.

I’d call that a bag fumbled.

For complete Ngannou vs. Fury: ‘Battle of the Baddest’ results, coverage and highlights click HERE.

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