Anthony Smith believes Francis Ngannou is in for a serious reality check if he steps inside the squared circle with a fighter like Tyson Fury.
After nearly two years of negotiation, the UFC and Ngannou have opted to part ways, leaving the promotion’s heavyweight crown without a king for the time being. UFC president Dana White made the shocking announcement last Saturday night following the promotion’s first event of 2023. White revealed that ‘The Predator’ was offered a contract making him the highest-paid heavyweight in the organization’s 30-year history. In the end, Ngannou’s freedom was worth more.
With Francis Ngannou now a free agent, speculation has begun as to what his first course of action will be now that he is free from the shackles of the Octagon. The smart money is on ‘The Predator’ making his debut in the squared circle for a high-profile boxing bout against Tyson Fury. While the fight looks great on a marquee, UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith believes Ngannou has zero chance of competing with ‘The Gypsy King’ should the two meet in the ring.
“I don’t mean to burst everybody’s bubble and we’re gonna get the same sh*t we get all the time,” Smith said during the latest episode of the Believe You Me podcast with Michael Bisping. ‘We’re company men. We’re just shills. We’re mouthpieces for the UFC.’ I have never understood this Francis Ngannou thing. I’m pro fighter. I want all the fighters to make as much money as they possibly can. I want you to dig deep in Uncle Dana’s pockets. As deep as you can. That’s what I want, but I’m realistic and I understand the sport and the business of the sport.
“If Francis… Just say he gets the Tyson Fury fight,” Smith continued. “We know how that’s going to go. As analysts, there’s not a world where Francis Ngannou beats Tyson Fury. Francis Ngannou is just a regular dude as a heavyweight boxer. He’s uncommon in MMA. He’s unique. He’s very special, but in professional boxing, he’s average at best. At best, he’s an average puncher. He’s a below-average boxer. He’s below average in his footwork and movement. He’s below average in his defense. He’s not gonna fare that well as a heavyweight professional boxer.”
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Can Francis Ngannou Find Long-Term Success Outside of the UFC?
Anthony Smith makes it clear that he is by no means disrespecting Francis Ngannou or hoping to see him fail in his future endeavors, but in the long run, is a career in professional boxing truly sustainable? Tyson Fury is the biggest name in the world of professional boxing and thus, makes an incredible amount of money for each one of his appearances inside the squared circle. For his 2021 rematch with Deontay Wilder, ‘The Gypsy King’ pocketed $25 million per The Sporting News.
If Ngannou gets his hands on half that, it will undoubtedly be the biggest payday of his combat sports career, but will he continue earning multi-million dollar paydays if Fury walks through him as Smith suspects he will? The newness will likely wear off, just as it did in the case of Jake Paul, leaving Ngannous with two choices. Either come crawling back to the UFC for a lesser deal or sign with a promotion like Bellator or the PFL who have a fraction of the resources Dana White has.
“He’s gonna get one big boxing fight and then the new is going to wear off. We’re gonna see how good he actually is and be like, ‘Oh f*ck. He’s not that good,'” Smith concluded.