Francis Ngannou’s stock rose dramatically this past weekend after coming extremely close to beating boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and it’s opened the door for some other blockbuster fights, with one of the biggest names currently on the table being another boxing great Deontay Wilder.
However, the twist in the tale is that, according to Ngannou, there’s been discussions about the fight actually taking place under MMA rules rather than boxing.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Ngannou said on The MMA Hour show. “In fact, we have spoken about that. That has been in the discussions. So that’s something that can potentially happen. Nothing is set, but it’s been something been coming to my attention, so that’s something that makes sense. He’s really serious about MMA. …
“It’s going to be a different beast for him. Unlike this time that I was the one experiencing the mountain, climbing the mountain. He’s going to be the one climbing the mountain because we watched this, we all watched the fight last Saturday.”
A former WBC heavyweight champion who racked up 10 successful defenses of the title between 2015-2020 before back-to-back losses against Tyson Fury, Wilder carries a similar reputation to Ngannou as a fearsome power puncher, with 42 of his 43 career wins all coming inside the distance.
Wilder had spoken back in June about the possibility of fighting Ngannou in MMA after attending a PFL event, stating that, “this is something that can truly happen,” and adding that, “this is a real conversation that has been taking place, not only just amongst the combat family, but amongst the teams as well, getting on the phone, everybody talking.”
Whether any further talks have taken place since then is unclear however, and it remains to be seen if Wilder would be quite so keen to step into Ngannou’s world in an MMA fight after seeing how well he did in the boxing ring against his nemesis Fury.
Nevertheless, PFL founder Donn Davis appears to be on the same page as Ngannou in terms of being interested in making the fight become a reality next year.
“What do I think would be fascinating? Deontay Wilder in a mixed rules right,” Davis said on The MMA Hour. “I think that’s the most interesting thing we could all see … This will all come down to availability, money, details — but I think those can come together.”
Whatever happens though, Davis confirmed that the plan remains for Ngannou to have one MMA fight in 2024 under the PFL banner.
“We always slated for him to have one MMA fight in 2024,” Davis said. “We had contengencies — March (or) December. So will he fight next year? Yes. Which fight will it be? I don’t know. We’ll partner with Francis and let that be his call.”