On October 28 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, former UFC Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou stepped into the boxing ring against Tyson Fury.
This event transpired merely ten months after Ngannou officially parted ways with the UFC in January 2023. UFC Dana White had expressed his frustrations in dealing with Ngannou, even referring to it as “impossible.”
The statement ignited a firestorm of criticism directed towards White, as many believe he erred in allowing Ngannou to leave the promotion.
Ngannou’s reign as the UFC Heavyweight champion reached its peak in January 2022 when he successfully defended his title against Ciryl Gane. Regrettably, that match marked his final appearance in the Octagon.
Among the many terms in his contract negotiations with the UFC, Ngannou ardently pushed for the liberty to engage in a boxing match. Ngannou and the promotion were unable to come to an agreement.
As a result, Dana White declared Ngannou’s exit from the UFC in January 2023. He wrote: “We offered Francis a deal that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the history of the company… More than [Brock] Lesnar, more than anybody, and he turned the deal down. We get to this point where I’ve told you guys before, if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be here.”
“I think Francis is in a place right now where he doesn’t want to take a lot of risk. [He] feels he’s in a good position where he could fight lesser opponents and make more money. So we’re going to let him do that.”
Subsequently, Ngannou found a new home in UFC’s rival promotion, PFL. He was granted the freedom to enter the boxing arena while under contract.
To the surprise of many, Ngannou secured a boxing match against the esteemed WBC Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Ngannou’s tenacity and skill in the ring captivated fans worldwide, who were quick to chastise White for his decision to part ways with such a phenomenal athlete.
Some of the comments were as follows:
“Dana busy breaking everything in his house rn.”
“Dana on life support right now!”
“Even Dana didn’t believe this. Just wanted to bury Francis. His entire life has been taking giant risks.”