Ngannou, the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, has been locked in a contractual dispute with the UFC for months now, which came to a head in and around the fight week for the Cameroonian’s unification clash with Ciryl Gane in January.
While his differences with the UFC and Dana White are more complex than one solitary issue, perhaps the one that has gained the most traction is Ngannou’s desire to box.
For a while, “The Predator” has publicly expressed his boxing ambitions, and has even gone back and forth with WBC and The Ring Heavyweight Champion Fury. However, it’s expected Ngannou will have to allow his contract to expire later this year and depart MMA’s premier organization to make it happen.
While some, including the likes of Daniel Cormier and Stephen Thompson, have suggested a move to the ring would be a mistake, others have questioned why White and his promotion are reluctant to allow their heavyweight star to cross over to the squared circle.
That includes Ngannou’s fellow heavyweight Curtis Blaydes, who recently suggested the champ should be granted the same freedom to do so as McGregor was in 2017.
Sonnen Doesn’t Believe There Is A “Value” To Francis Ngannou Boxing
In a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen addressed the topic, disagreeing with Blaydes’ view and decision to speak out against the UFC on the matter.
After questioning the heavyweight contender for encouraging his division’s champion to pursue challenges outside of the UFC, Sonnen explained why McGregor and Mayweather’s ‘Money Fight’ was a completely different scenario. To do so, he detailed the backstory and the sequence of events that led to that contest coming together.
“Conor McGregor, just so you understand the timeline, went out of nowhere and started calling out Floyd,” Sonnen recalled. “The problem with that, was Conor said he was gonna be the ’45-pound champion and he was only one fight deep and nobody knew who he was. On his way to that ’45-pound championship, he promised he was gonna win, he also grabbed himself an interim strap — by the way, leaves, goes out (and) sets a live-gate record of 17.2 million to take on Eddie Alvarez for the ’55-pound title, of which Conor never should have won… He did all of those things; Mystic Mac is real.
“All of a sudden, Mystic Mac says he’s going to go and beat up Floyd and here’s why, ‘He’s too small, he’s too old, his hands are little, his head is big.’ And we listened,” Sonnen continued. “The son of a bitch had been right about everything else. It was a weird time in life… When you’ve made five claims and you did all five of them, why not bring Floyd?”
Also citing the attention, draw, and stardom involved in the build-up, Sonnen noted that McGregor brought White onboard to co-promote once the pulling-power of the matchup was clear.
In regards to Ngannou’s hopes to meet Fury in the ring, Sonnen doesn’t believe “The Predator” would like White to co-promote the potential event.
“All of a sudden they go, ‘I think we’ve got something here.’ They hold four press conferences — all four press conferences sell out,” said Sonnen. “If you have enough fight fans to sell out a press conference where you’re guaranteed no punches are gonna be thrown, you got a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen fight night.
“Just so you understand, once this was built, once this was done, once this looked like a good investment, Conor brought Dana in on it,” added Sonnen. “That was a co-promote. That is a very different scenario. And if Curtis Blaydes thinks they’re same-same (and that) the precedent is set, Francis is not looking to bring in Dana White. I wish Francis the best of luck; I don’t think there is a value for Francis Ngannou to box.”
While Ngannou’s future in the UFC is still uncertain, and likely will be for as long as he remains on the sidelines recovering from injury, Fury has continued to hype up the potential crossover clash. He even recently suggested it will go down in Las Vegas in the first quarter of 2023.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen’s take on Francis Ngannou’s boxing ambitions?