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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Danny Segura

Francis Ngannou unsure of MMA return, says ‘there’s a chance’ he does only boxing in 2024

Francis Ngannou’s future in MMA has become even more uncertain.

Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champion now signed with PFL, was expected to debut with his new promotion sometime in 2024, but that might not be the case anymore. Unexpectedly this past week, Ngannou booked a boxing match against British star Anthony Joshua for March 8 in Saudi Arabia. With this booking and a potential year-end rematch with Tyson Fury looming after a competitive split decision in October, Ngannou said “there’s a chance” he just does boxing this year.

“Possibility, yes. Strong possibility, I don’t know,” Ngannou said when asked if he was going to fight in MMA in 2024 on “The MMA Hour.” “As I said, even before this fight, nothing was certain yet.”

If Ngannou defeats Joshua, he expects to rematch Fury regardless if Fury beats Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship Feb. 17.

“I win this fight, I’m fighting Fury –period,” Ngannou said. “Whether or not he has the belt.”

He also added, “There has always been talk about that – always. Even after the fight, the Minister stepped in the ring and said, ‘Get ready for the rematch.’ It’s going to happen. They have Fury-Usyk going on, so (Joshua) was the opportunity. I was waiting for Fury, but this was the opportunity that I was happy to take. At the end of the day, this won’t take anything from the Fury rematch.”

Although focusing on boxing means time away from PFL, Ngannou said he got the blessing from the MMA promotion to fight Joshua and that they’re currently on good terms.

“When I received a call and the offer for proposal of this fight, what happened? I reached out to PFL and told them because we’re in the business together,” Ngannou said. “They gave me their blessing and said they can’t take away this opportunity from me, so I was happy to do that. I didn’t want to know what else they’re going to say, as long as they approved. They didn’t have a problem with this.”

Ngannou hasn’t fought in MMA since defending his UFC heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane back in January 2022, the last fight on his contract. Ngannou is currently on a six-fight winning streak since his disappointing loss to Derrick Lewis back in 2018.

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