Francis Ngannou admits to being curious, but he really couldn’t care less about what his former boss thinks of his remarkable performance against Tyson Fury.
Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champion, lost to WBC heavyweight champ Fury in his boxing debut, but he managed to shake up the sports world with his performance this past Saturday in a fight that was dubbed “Battle of the Baddest.” Ngannou dropped Fury in the third and lasted all 10 rounds with perhaps the greatest heavyweight boxer of his generation before dropping a split decision that many observers believe should’ve gone the other way.
“Who cares?” Ngannou told host Ariel Helwani. “Dana White feels like Dana White feels. I feel like I feel. Personally I feel great. I think you have to send him an invite so you can ask him. I would like to know, too.”
Ngannou, who fought out his UFC contract in January 2022, left the UFC earlier this year while still holding the promotion’s heavyweight title after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a new deal following a lengthy negotiating period. One major sticking point for Ngannou was the UFC’s refusal to give him the flexibility to compete in boxing, which he got from the PFL after signing with the rival MMA promotion in May.
Since parting ways, White has bad-mouthed Ngannou and his decision making. This past January, prior to the PFL deal, White said Ngannou “doesn’t want to take a lot of risks” and “feels he’s in a good position where he can fight lesser opponents and make more money.” Then in March, White said Ngannou will never be in the UFC again.”
Shortly after Ngannou signed with the PFL in May, White took the opportunity to grandstand about Ngannou’s desire to box.
“Francis just thinks he’s in a position where he’s got some sort of Conor McGregor-Mayweather fight on his hands, which he does not,” White said. “… MMA guys vs. boxers doesn’t make any sense to me. But I know he thinks there’s all this money in it. I disagree. I don’t think there is.”
Two months later, the Fury vs. Ngannou fight was officially announced.
Given how things played out for Ngannou, does he think White is happy for him?
“We have to ask him, but I don’t know,” Ngannou said. “I’m not sure, though. I’m not sure because he’s been throwing little stones my way, like trying to f*ck me. …
“Dana is Dana. He said what Dana said, which most of the time doesn’t mean anything. You mean (I wanted) a lesser fighter like Tyson Fury, right? That’s what I wanted, yeah. He was right.”
Ngannou said he never doubted himself or his decision to forego the financial security of a long-term UFC contract for his freedom to choose his own career path. Ngannou said he was willing to return to Cameroon and work as a farmer if nothing went his way.
“You have to understand something: Things have played out for me perfectly, maybe even more than anyone expected,” Ngannou said. “But let me tell you this: Let’s say after the UFC, after (leaving the UFC), I didn’t have any of those contracts whether it was the PFL contract or the Tyson Fury fight contract, I wouldn’t regret it. You know, it wasn’t an overnight decision. It was a decision that I thought about. I thought about it many times.”
Compromising what he stands for wasn’t an option.
“I’m not doing what I don’t want to do just because, I mean, just to please somebody,” Ngannou said. “No, I don’t do that. I can’t do that. It’s just beyond my capability. Never regret, but I think things been playing out even better than I have expected. I couldn’t even script this out. This is so beautiful. Why would I regret it? Everything’s been good.”
For more on the matchup, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Fury vs. Ngannou.