Heading into his massive PPV boxing match this Saturday in Saudi Arabia, it’s safe to say the deck is stacked firmly against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. The few books offering odds on the fight currently have Tyson Fury sitting as a favorite anywhere from -1400 to -2000.
If anything, pros in the industry are even more down on the possibility that Ngannou can score an upset for the ages. “Zero,” Terrance Crawford told the assembled media when asked what chance he’d give Ngannou of beating Fury. Upcoming Fury opponent Oleksandr Usyk echoed those sentiments in a recent interview of his own.
“Promotion? Top-notch. Actual fight quality? Well, I’ve seen better sparring sessions in local gyms,” Usyk proclaimed, adding that Ngannou had serious accomplishments in MMA. “But UFC isn’t boxing. And Fury, well, he isn’t quite the boxer he used to be.”
Alistair Overeem picking Francis Ngannou via KO
At least one pro fighter is backing ‘The Predator’ to get the victory, however. None other than former UFC title contender and one-time Ngannou opponent Alistair Overeem. The ‘Reem’ met the Cameroonian-born Frenchman back in 2017, on the way to Ngannou’s first bid for heavyweight gold. That fight ended just 1 minute and 42 seconds into the first round, when Ngannou detonated the Dutchman with an uppercut that would become the center point of his highlight reel for years to come.
It’s that kind of power that seems to have made an impact on Overeem’s thinking for the Xtreme Couture talent’s upcoming bout with Tyson Fury.
“Not only a chance — I believe he’s going to win,” Alistair Overeem said in a recent interview on the MMA Hour, noting that he believes it will be a “brutal force KO,” for Ngannou (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“Because I look at fights a little bit different, right? Of course, I’ve been in the game for 30 years. But I look at patterns, I look at some little details, I look at it a little different. And I think Ngannou is going to surprise the world, shock the world. Listen, also because people underestimate UFC fighters. They do. MMA fighters, let’s call them MMA fighters. There’s a lot of details that are in here and boxers are basically one-dimensional to us. Yes, Tyson is the best, yes, yes, yes, but France is a big dude. Very big dude.”
Tyson Fury believes he’d beat Ngannou in MMA too
Putting aside all this boxing nonsense, the next evolution of what ifs in the upcoming war between Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury has to be, ‘what if they fought in MMA instead?’ Leave it to Fury, however, to have an answer for that. The unbeaten heavyweight champion boxer is so confident in his skill advantage over his upcoming opponent that he feels he’d be a shoo-in for victory even in a set of 4oz gloves.
“He’s not a good wrestler; he’s known for striking, and I’m a better striker than him. In little gloves, I’d knock him out in seconds,” Fury claimed in a September press conference for his upcoming PPV battle. “I’d fight Jon Jones also in the cage, if the money was right.”
The money will almost certainly never be right enough for Tyson Fury to ever fight Jon Jones inside the UFC Octagon, but it’s a line that UFC president Dana White has been happy to jump on, telling the 35-year-old that the UFC was ready and waiting for him with a lucrative offer.
“I will make Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury in the Octagon,” Dana White told reporters back in June. “And we’ll figure it out. We figured out how to pay Floyd (Mayweather), we’ll figure out how to pay you too, Tyson.”
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