Six months after leaving the UFC, former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has announced his next opponent.
He will step into the boxing ring to take on WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on October 28th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, accusations of sabotage have emerged, with Ngannou’s manager, Marquel Martin, alleging that the UFC attempted to undermine the event.
During an interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Ngannou’s manager voiced his concerns about the UFC’s actions. He referred to UFC President Dana White as a “great promoter” and expressed little surprise at the alleged sabotage. Martin stated:
“When we saw it, we just kind of [were] like of course. Of course you would say on one end it’s a gimmick fight – shout out GIMIK Fight Promotions – and then on the other hand, it comes to where it’s like, ‘oh, no, we’ll put that on.'”
According to Martin, although the UFC may have initially considered a matchup between Jon Jones and Tyson Fury, there were underlying motives:
“I think they really just wanted to mess up our chances, to be quite honest. I think, for whatever reason, there’s a sour taste in their mouth when it comes to Francis. They don’t want Francis to be able to have that opportunity. I think that was clear to us for a while.”
While there were previous discussions about a potential matchup between Tyson Fury and UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones, those plans ultimately fell through. Fury showed no interest in transitioning to mixed martial arts, and Jones had no desire to engage in a boxing match.
During his interview with Ariel Helwani, Martin revealed that the negotiations for a boxing match with Fury had been ongoing with the UFC for over two years. However, the promotion had its own plans and strategy, which resulted in the matchup not coming to fruition. Martin explained:
“After Stipe [Miocic], it was supposed to be Jon Jones… I said, Stipe, then we’re gonna take care of Jon Jones, then we’re gonna go for Tyson Fury… But they had their own plans and their own strategy and for whatever reason they just didn’t want to make it happen.”
He further speculated that the reluctance might have been influenced by the financial success of Conor McGregor’s boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, suggesting that the UFC didn’t want to repeat a similar endeavor.
“It was maybe the Conor McGregor effect, Conor made so much money from that boxing fight [against Floyd Mayweather] that maybe they didn’t want to do it again.”
Since 2014, Benny A. King has been fully immersed in the world of combat sports. Starting with a blog about Greco Roman wrestling, Benny’s passion for combat sports has led him to explore various disciplines.