Francis Ngannou has yet to find his next fighting home.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) crowned a new Heavyweight champion last month (March 4, 2023) in the form of all-time great and former multi-time Light Heavyweight titlist, Jon Jones. “Bones” got through former interim Heavyweight champion, Ciryl Gane, via a first-round guillotine submission (watch highlights) in a bout that many hoped would pit the legend against the previous titleholder, Ngannou.
Ngannou ultimately couldn’t agree on a new deal with UFC, resulting in his departure from the promotion and vacating of the title. He remains a free agent with intentions to box before coming back to mixed martial arts (MMA), and there’s plenty of interest, including from the likes of ONE Championship CEO and Founder, Chatri Sityodtong.
“He has a bunch of offers on the table,” Sityodtong said on The MMA Hour. “He’s waiting for our final offer. I am going to meet Francis this Saturday [in Los Angeles]. He and I will sit down and talk and for sure; ONE can give him the biggest offer on the table out of all his bids, but it has to work for him, it has to work for us. I just believe that meeting somebody, you get the energy.
“I think there’s going to be big news on Francis shortly, and I think he’s taking his time,” he continued. “From the few interactions I’ve had with Francis, he’s very thoughtful and methodical and careful. At the same time, he’s a very principled man. That’s one thing I’ve learned about him. He’s very principled. He does things on principle. A dollar here, a dollar there won’t sway him. It’s principles. That’s what’s very admirable about him. At the same time, I do believe the world is his oyster. I do believe he’s a big pay-per-view draw in boxing or MMA.”
Ngannou last fought in Jan. 2022, defending his title by unanimous decision against the aforementioned Gane (watch highlights) in what was his first and only title defense as a UFC champion. “The Predator” was primarily recovering from a knee injury all of last year. Unfortunately for the Cameroon native, he has seemingly burned his bridge back to “the ultimate proving ground” by sticking to his guns.
If flexibility in MMA and boxing is what he wants, however, the other options out there will surely suit him best ... as long as he can come to reasonable agreements with whoever he works with.
“If we did boxing, we would be the co-promoter with him,” Sityodtong said. “One of the big differences at ONE versus a UFC as a comparison point, at ONE we offer multiple disciplines. It’s not just mixed martial arts.
“So we had a WBC boxing world title before in ONE,” he added. “I think this was 2017 or 2018. It was a regular ONE show, you saw Muay Thai, you saw the grappling, you saw MMA, and we had a boxing world title fight. So the platform we’ve built, we really want the best fighters on the planet.”