Francis Ngannou should stick with boxing and leave MMA behind

Francis Ngannou is a professional boxer now. Why should he waste his time going back to MMA?

By: Evan Zivin | 4 weeks ago
Francis Ngannou should stick with boxing and leave MMA behind
Louis Grasse / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

With one punch, Francis Ngannou completely changed the trajectory of his post-UFC career.

He shocked the world on Saturday when he entered a contest with Tyson Fury as a +700 underdog and came as close as anyone has come to pulling off the biggest upset in boxing history (Buster Douglas can rest easy knowing he’s not about to be removed from the sports edition of Trivial Pursuit just yet).

While a good number of boxers and MMA fighters thought Francis Ngannou actually did enough to win, the upset was not meant to be. That doesn’t mean he didn’t earn anything in defeat, though. He represented the sport of MMA exceptionally well while gaining the respect of the boxing community that was outraged such a farce was sanctioned to begin with.

I mean, if I told you the boxing champion was the one throwing elbows and shooting doubles, would you believe me?

Maybe Tyson Fury would fare better in that room with Jon Jones then we all thought…

Tyson Fury on the floor after getting knocked down by UFC star Francis Ngannou.

Francis Ngannou is the real deal

The point of all this is to say that Francis Ngannou performed tremendously well. So much so, in fact, that the WBC President confirmed that Ngannou is about to be a Top 10 ranked heavyweight.

In boxing. A sport he only just debuted in. That’s crazy.

I know that being ranked doesn’t mean a whole lot. After all, Jake Paul would have received a WBC ranking for beating Tommy Fury so anyone can do it (apparently beating a YouTuber is only good enough to secure you a spot in the upper 30s). For all we know, they’ll throw John Fury a number if he manages to get Mike Tyson back in the ring.

Still, it’s good to see Francis Ngannou get the recognition he deserves. The hard work has paid off. He’s put the boxing world on notice because he’s here and he’s for real.

So, now that the boxing debut is in the rear view, it’s time for Francis to get back in the cage, right? He got his wish and had his fight. Now he needs to start thinking about his return to MMA.

But here’s a question: why would he go back to MMA? Why should he go back? If he just did what he did to Tyson Fury, why wouldn’t he stay in boxing? Sure seems like a more viable career path to me.

Boxing offers better competition…

We’ve discussed previously the main issue regarding the PFL contract he signed earlier this year (besides the boxing ambition that he certainly proved us all wrong on), namely who is he going to fight? There will be plenty of suitors thanks to the arrangement Francis has where his opponent will be given their own bag to fumble, but the options haven’t improved at all from earlier this year.

Is it going to be Ryan Bader? Junior dos Santos and his “supplements”? Alexander Volkanovski wearing his Katniss Everdeen Halloween costume?

Before Saturday, there wasn’t anyone outside the UFC who seemed capable of headlining a pay-per-view opposite Ngannou. Now the task seems even more daunting for the PFL.

Francis Ngannou is no longer just a former MMA champion with a puncher’s chance at being something greater. He’s so much more now than he was just days ago. Who can the PFL find that will seem worthwhile at this point? Why would Francis Ngannou waste his time fighting a has-been or a nobody in MMA when fights with Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are achievable and already being called for by promoters?

Maybe if The Bronze Bomber was actually being serious about doing a fight in both boxing and MMA, and not just chasing headlines.

…and far better compensation

Plus, while it’s expected that Francis Ngannou is going to make more per fight in the PFL than he did in the UFC, the man just made well into the 8 figures in his first boxing co-promotion. If he knows he can make that much without the risks and wear of an MMA camp, why would he put himself through another one?

The reality of Francis Ngannou’s contract with PFL means that he’ll probably need to fight for them at least once. If I were him, I’d try and make that fight happen either as soon as possible or delay it for as long as he can. That way, he can spend more time chasing the real money fights.

Wilder, Joshua…even a rematch with Fury would be more exciting than anything Ngannou could do in MMA outside of the fight with Jon Jones — that we all know won’t ever happen because Dana White doesn’t like sharing his toys.

As MMA fans, we should want the best for Francis Ngannou, right? So it’s time he casts aside the 4 ounce gloves and sticks to 10 ounces.

Or 12 ounces. Or more. Seriously, have you seen how hard the man punches?

September 26 2023,Francis Ngannou,Media Workout,Las Vegas,Nevadas,Nevada Las Vegas Nevada USA NgonnouWorkout_Hoganphotos1695
Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos, IMAGO

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About the author
Evan Zivin
Evan Zivin

Evan Zivin is a writer, having joined Bloody Elbow in 2023. He's been providing his unique takes on the sport of MMA since 2013, previously working as a featured columnist for 411Mania. Evan has followed MMA and professional wrestling for most of his life. His joy is in finding the stories and characters within all combat sports and presenting them in a serious yet light-hearted way.

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