Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou are set to tangle in Riyadh tomorrow in an absurd spectacle that has been set up to further promote Saudi Arabia as the premier sporting destination on the globe. Please read Karim Zidan’s work to understand why the House of Saud wants that reputation (and not something different).

While Karim breaks down the geopolitical ramification of this fight, the rest of us schlubs are going to do our best to prognosticate on what might happen between the ropes on Saturday.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of us are picking an actual boxer to win a boxing match. Scroll down for our reasons for that. And please tell us your pick in the comments!

Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou staff picks and predictions

Anton Tabuena

I’m legitimately happy for Francis Ngannou after he was able to get out of UFC’s restrictive contracts to get a far better payday and true control of his career. That is a massive victory on its own, but sadly probably his only one this weekend. There’s also another sad conversation about how all these UFC fighters have to handicap themselves and lose in a different sport to get a career high payday, but I should probably talk about the actual fight now… 

Ngannou has power, but it’d be nothing that Fury hasn’t seen or felt from far more technical boxers – especially with big gloves on. I honestly wouldn’t fully trust Ngannou to consistently beat every UFC contender in pure boxing rules, so there’s not much to say about him going against the actual top 1 (or 2) boxer in the world. I am hoping for a miracle, but that’s probably what he needs here. Tyson Fury by KO.

Tyson Fury attempts to land a leaning jab against Deontay Wilder during the Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder III 12-round Heavyweight boxing match, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, October 9th, 2021. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxONLY LAV2021100957 JAMESxATOA
Tyson Fury utilizing his reach advantage over Deontay Wilder. | James Atoa/UPI Photo, IMAGO

Tim Bissell

I don’t think Francis Ngannou lands a single punch on Tyson Fury. He’s going to get in there, try swinging away and Fury will see it all coming from a mile away. He’ll slip the punches, hang out on the ropes, dazzling Ngannou with his head movement – smiling as he does it. He won’t strike back for the first two rounds, spending that time just to see what The Predator is all about and lulling him into punching himself out.

Francis Ngannou will be tired in the third and that’s when Fury will start responding to Ngannou’s wild misses. Fury will touch him up in the body and in the fourth round Ngannou will be absolutely gassed. But Fury is a mean S.O.B., he’ll carry Ngannou for the remainder of the fight. For Fury it would be less fun to KO Ngannou in the fifth than it would to see him come close to dying of exhaustion after eight rounds. Tyson Fury by decision (if Ngannou doesn’t quit on the stool).

Nate Wilcox

For Francis Ngannou, just getting the fight booked was the win. He’s going to enjoy a career-best payday and well-earned at that. However, he has virtually zero chance entering a new sport in his late 30s against the world champion. Only question is whether or not Fury will carry him to the finish or finish him. Winner: Tyson Fury

Blaine Henry

Come on, bruh… Winner: Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora 03 December 2022 London, Heavyweight Boxing - Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora - Fury on the back foot. (Photo by Mark Leech). London UK *** Tyson Fury gegen Derek Chisora 03. Dezember 2022 London, Schwergewicht Boxen Tyson Fury gegen Derek Chisora Fury auf dem Rückfuß Foto von Mark Leech London UK PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xMarkxLeechxOffside
Tyson Fury makes Derek Chisora miss in December 2022. | Offside Sports Photography, IMAGO

Dayne Fox

Sigh… I don’t care for the cross pollinating of sports. I didn’t care for it when McGregor did it. I don’t care for it now. Regardless, I understand it’s a big payday for those involved, so it is what it is. It’s generally easy to figure these out. If this were an MMA fight, Ngannou would be the heavy favorite. Given it’s a boxing contest, Fury is the rightful favorite. Perhaps someday, that dynamic will be broken, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Fury via TKO

Stephie Haynes

As much as I would love to see Ngannou get the Cinderella ending, even I know the odds of that are very slim.Tyson Fury by (T)KO.

Jack Wannan

For lore purposes, it would be pretty great if Francis Ngannou was able to gut out a win here. But that’s not happening. Fury via TKO

Victor Rodriguez

Ngannou is already a winner. Free from the yoke of the UFC megastructure, he’s secured the bag in this fight and made himself a fixture of the immediate future of PFL once this is over. And he will most likely lose. And that’s fine. Fury is technical, strong, takes a hit, and has been molded in the sweet science since childhood. Francis could never catch up.

And yet… I’ll go with the reckless underdog solidarity pick for Francis. He literally has nothing to lose here. Frankly, neither do I by picking him. Will he win? Naaaaaaaaaah. Would I love to see him pull off the improbable? Si señor. This one’s for the dreamers and the schemers. Francis Ngannou by shock KO.

MMA: UFC 249-Ngannou vs Rozenstruik, May 9, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) knocks out Jairzinho Rozenstruik (blue gloves) during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports, 09.05.2020 23:32:51, 14296806, Francis Ngannou, NPStrans, UFC 249, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, MMA, TopPic PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY 14296806
Francis Ngannou needed only 20 seconds to put away Jairzinho Rozenstruik in 2020. | Jasen Vinlove / USA TODAY Network, IMAGO

Zane Simon

Watching a couple of Ngannou and Fury’s fights over again this week has given me the distinct feeling that this is going to be a brutally ugly fight. That feeling has only increased with the recent lack of clarity as to the exhibition/pro status for the bout and the “two separate venues” system that the plan on using. Holding the undercard in one area, and the actual main event in another.

Is this just a buildup to some bigger, wilder gimmick? Probably not. But even still, I gotta expect that Fury will use his size and frame to play it safe, wear on Ngannou for a while, and then when the former UFC champ is exhausted land enough punches to get the fight called. Tyson Fury via TKO, round 6.

Chris Rini

Big sigh. Fury. 

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 26: Francis Ngannou trains with coach Dewey Cooper at the Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou open workout on September 26, 2023, at Ngannou™s private gym in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Amy Kaplan Icon Sportswire) BOXING: SEP 26 Francis Ngannou Workout EDITORIAL USE ONLY Icon2309262583
Francis Ngannou and Dewey Cooper at his much maligned open workout. | Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire, IMAGO

All staff picks

Staff picking Tyson Fury: Jack, Nate, Dayne, Anton, Stephie, Kristen, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Francis Ngannou: Lucas, Victor

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

Email me at tim@bloodyelbow.com. Nice messages will get a response.

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