Francis Ngannou has silenced all the skeptics with his latest move.
Despite the talks of a crossover boxing event involving Jon Jones and Tyson Fury, Ngannou persevered and secured his deal. The big announcement arrived this week: on October 28, the former UFC heavyweight champion will make his combat sports comeback and professional boxing debut against Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The confirmation of the Ngannou vs. Fury bout comes after Ngannou joined the Professional Fighters League (PFL) as both an MMA fighter and a brand ambassador. During the early stages of Ngannou's post-UFC free agency, many experts in the MMA community expressed concern for "The Predator" and worried that he may have taken an excessive risk. Among those apprehensive voices was fellow former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who now finds himself retracting his recent criticism.
“First off, I’m sorry, Francis,” Cormier said on DC & RC. “I want to fumble your bag, too, Francis. Can I ask you a question? Do you have to be a little bit naive to go out in that world like that and know your value to the point that you will even when it looked dark to stand on your loyal and go, ‘It’ll happen for me.’
“Francis had just enough of that, and now he finds himself — he’s going to make more money than he ever could have imagined making in his entire life because guess what? They’re fighting in Saudi Arabia, which, somehow, literally just bought the PGA. How much money do you have to have to buy golf? Francis and Tyson Fury are going to make so much money, it’s crazy.”
Although the specific figures regarding the earnings of Ngannou and Fury have not been disclosed yet, it was revealed on Wednesday by Ngannou's manager, Marquel Martin, during an interview on The MMA Hour that Ngannou will earn more from this one boxing match than he did in his entire 14-fight UFC career combined.
While Ngannou’s PFL debut and return to MMA are still anticipated to happen in 2024, this new deal is the definition of a lottery-type win. Therefore, Cormier questions whether or not Ngannou will end up fighting in PFL at all.
“It’s a crazy, crazy turn of events for Francis Ngannou, but we are both insanely happy for him,” Cormier said. “I want to be wrong in this situation. I’m happy that he’s getting paid in that way.”