ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong provided an update on what’s next for Francis Ngannou.
In January 2022, Ngannou defended the UFC heavyweight championship by defeating Ciryl Gane. He went on to spend several months negotiating with the promotion before deciding to part ways and test the free agency market.
Although ‘The Predator’ has been focused on professional boxing, the 36-year-old revealed earlier this year that he might sign with ONE Championship or the PFL. After several weeks without an update, Sitydotong had this to say during an interview with Chael Sonnen:
“I like Francis, he’s a good guy, but I generally don’t know where he’s gonna end up. I can confirm that we are in discussions, but all I meant to say was, from my understanding, and I know we are also at the very tale end of our process, he has a bunch of offers. Let’s see what happens. We haven’t submitted our final offer yet, so that’s where we’re at. We’ve been in discussions for the last few months, and we’ve given a couple of offers I believe, and our final one we are putting together.”
Ngannou left the UFC with plans to compete in a big-money boxing match against Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, or Anthony Joshua. Unfortunately, those fighters seem focused on competing for world championships, potentially leading to ‘The Predator’ returning to MMA for his next fight. The former UFC heavyweight champion still has plans to make his professional boxing debut later this year.
Watch Chael Sonnen interview Chatri Sityodtong below:
Chatri Sityodtong says Francis Ngannou would ‘have his hands full’ in the ONE heavyweight division
Francis Ngannou won his last six fights in the UFC heavyweight division before exploring free agency. There was a strong argument for him being the best heavyweight on the planet, which has since been disputed with the return of Jon Jones.
During the same interview with Chael Sonnen, Chatri Sityodtong argued that Ngannou would be tested in the ONE heavyweight division. He had this to say:
“If Francis comes into the ONE heavyweight division, he’s gonna have his hands full. You have up-and-coming superstars like [Marcus] Buchecha, the greatest grappler of all time… We have a very very stacked heavyweight division, and if Francis does join, he’s gonna have his hands full, no matter what.”
Arjan Bhullar, a former UFC fighter who was 3-1 in the promotion, is the current ONE heavyweight champion. While Bhullar was injured, Anatoly Malykhin, 12-0 with twelve finishes, became the interim title-holder. The unification bout has been postponed twice, stalling the division temporarily. Meanwhile, Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida, a 17x BJJ world champion with a 4-0 MMA record, could also be an intriguing stylistic matchup for Ngannou.
Only time will tell if ‘The Predator’ signs with ONE Championship and adds more depth to the heavyweight division.