UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou has fuelled excitement among fighting fans by insisting that he expects a hybrid bout with Tyson Fury to take place next year.
WBC heavyweight champion Fury claimed he would be retiring following his emphatic sixth-round victory over Dillian Whyte on Saturday night, but he swiftly seemed to backtrack on that notion. When American broadcaster ESPN got Ngannou into the ring after the fight, the duo appeared to verbally agree to a fight.
Fury announced to ESPN: "This is going to be one very special fight. It'll be something never before seen in the history of our sport. We're not talking two guys around 140lb, I'm 270lb, he's 270lb. It's going to be an explosive fight when it happens."
It led to some confusion over Fury's next plans, with many rubbishing his retirement talk. And now Ngannou has announced the Gypsy King wants to continue fighting as he gave some insight into a likely fight date.
"We both want this fight, that's clear, and we respect each other," Ngannou told MMA Hour on Monday. "Probably next year it will happen. I think it's going to happen, it's just a matter of our promotions, but we will sort this out at some point."
And when asked by the host whether he can knock him out, Ngannou was in confident mood: "100 per cent I believe I can knock him out. As I said, it’s not easy, but it’s possible."
Ngannou last fought in January 2022, beating Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 thanks to a unanimous decision, but his future within the company is uncertain right now. He is currently on the comeback trail from knee surgery and is unlikely to be able to feature until December at the earliest – which is when his UFC deal ends.
That would leave Ngannou, who said he wants to make it a hybrid fight, in a good position to negotiate a deal with Fury without any contract restrictions in his way.
"The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion [with the UFC] – there is no other option," said Ngannou. "The UFC is a great promotion and I want to keep fighting. The Tyson Fury fight is not my last fight, there's still a lot of fights out there. There's Jon Jones, there's the Stipe Miocic trilogy, there's big fights I can do in the UFC and I'd really like that to happen."
Ngannou added that there's a 70% chance that his next opponent would be the Gypsy King, while from the boxer's side it would be 90%.
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