Francis Ngannou’s remarkable performance against Tyson Fury in their “Battle of the Baddest” boxing clash in Saudi Arabia has seen the former UFC heavyweight champion’s stock go through the roof, and another former UFC champ, Michael Bisping, thinks the sky’s the limit for the Cameroonian heavyweight.
Speaking to Betway, Bisping said that Ngannou’s impressive display on his professional boxing debut – against the reigning WBC heavyweight champion of the world – suggests that he could soon become a two-sport champion by capturing a world heavyweight title as a boxer.
“If you can do that in your first fight, with the immense pressure of the celebrities flown in from all over the world, the glitz and glamour of the whole event, and the immense anxiety that comes with it? Dealing with that separates men from boys and he dealt with it like a champ. He kept his calm and probably beat Fury, he certainly won the war, so yes, he could win a heavyweight title, why not?” he said.
“I think every boxing promoter on the planet is going to try and sign him. The rematch with Fury has to happen, (then) there’s (Deontay) Wilder, AJ (Anthony Joshua), (Andy) Ruiz, (Dillian) Whyte, (Derek) Chisora. Every boxing fan wants to see what he can follow it up with, the encore.”
Ngannou headed into his bout with Fury facing seemingly insurmountable odds, with the overwhelming majority of the world’s fight fans, analysts, and fighters finding it hard to make a case for him beating “The Gypsy King.”
But, contrary to popular belief, Ngannou looked very much at home inside the ropes, as he fought on even terms with Fury through the 10-round non-title fight in Riyadh. And, to underline his credentials, he even dropped the WBC champion with a superb counter left hook in the third round.
It proved all the doubters wrong, catapulted Ngannou to new levels of notoriety outside of MMA circles, and suggested that boxing has a new heavyweight superstar to contend with.
“Ngannou became a sensation overnight and, in my opinion, he beat Tyson Fury,” offered Bisping.
“He did more damage, he won the story of the fight, he won over the fight community, he looked more poised, balanced, patient, calm, and composed.
“Fury was shocked at the speed of Ngannou. Ngannou didn’t look like the same guy we saw on the pads – maybe that was for the cameras. He was fast, precise, and also technical. When Fury switched stances, Ngannou was able to mirror and counter. He technically held his own and landed the better shots. The judge who gave it to Fury by a landslide should never judge again.
“Ngannou proved MMA fighters can hang with boxers and are superior athletes. Jake Paul’s been out there baiting the narrative that ‘MMA fighters can’t hang with boxers.’ Well, maybe those old guys he’s fighting can’t compete. But a guy in their prime just went in there with the best heavyweight on Planet Earth and beat him at his own game, and would probably do the same to all of the other heavyweights, as well.
“I think after what we saw on Saturday night, Ngannou-AJ is a competitive fight, and there’s a possibility that Ngannou wins. AJ’s not as fast as Fury and you can never underestimate Ngannou. We know that he’ll have a good go.
“I think he can have a good go with anyone. I think he beats anyone on Fury’s record. Derek Chisora, Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder, Tom Schwartz, Otto Wallin. He beats all of them, for sure.”
And, on the topic of Wilder, Bisping reacted to the suggestion that “The Bronze Bomber” could be prepared to make the jump in the other direction and step into the PFL SmartCage to face Ngannou under MMA rules. In “The Count’s” opinion, that would be a bad career move.
“If Francis Ngannou fought Deontay Wilder in the Octagon, in mixed martial arts, it would be like taking on a newborn baby,” he said.
“He would pick him up, put him in his pocket, go for a beer, come back, smash him up, and do whatever he wants.
“Ngannou is twice the size and Wilder has stick-thin legs. He has freak power but if he’s going to come over to MMA, he needs to be a light heavyweight or a middleweight. He’s just not big enough, and he can’t wrestle.”
Bisping also suggested that Ngannou’s future may now lie in boxing, with legitimate heavyweight options hard to come by outside of the UFC.
“Ngannou has no options in MMA,” he said.
“What options does he have in PFL, none? Francis is going to make a lot of money, but in terms of competition, who is there? Juan Adams? He’d smoke him. Maurice Greene? Not a competition. I’m not that familiar with these names and I can’t think they’ll pose much of a threat.
“In terms of a Jon Jones fight, that ship has sailed forever. It would be an amazing fight, but after the injury (to Jones) I don’t think it ever happens.”