Francis Ngannou won't sign new UFC deal - unless Tyson Fury bout is part of agreement

Heavyweight champion has been involved in often public dispute with the promotion for some time

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UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou says any new contract with the promotion must include an option to fight boxing star Tyson Fury in a crossover bout.

The Cameroonian, currently recovering from knee surgery, has been involved in an often public dispute with the UFC having fought out his most recent deal with victory against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January. Since he is champion, he can become a free agent only in December.

Speaking on Monday night on The MMA Hour, Ngannou told host Ariel Helwani that he had had clear-the-air talks with the UFC over dinner since the Gane win and then again last week with UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell, although he did add that “as far as business, we haven’t really moved on”.

“There is a lot of work to do here,” Ngannou said.

However, in terms of a new deal with the UFC, Ngannou stated unequivocally that he wants the opportunity to take on Fury. The two heavyweight champions of their respective sports met in the ring following Fury’s successful WBC title defence against Dillian Whyte at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday, with both reiterating their desire to go head-to-head in a crossover fight.

After defeating Whyte by sixth-round knockout, the undefeated Fury (32-0-1) said he was retiring from professional boxing.

On Monday, Ngannou told The MMA Hour: “The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion. That’s not an option. It has to be part of the discussion, because if that’s not part of the discussion now, it will never be.

"If I sign another contract now, and basically the same model of a contract, I’m screwed. It’s not happening ever. So we have to figure out a way to implement this into a contract.”

Ngannou added: “My contract situation is not a roadblock because either way, my contract situation will not stop me from fighting. So I think it’s pretty easy. Tyson Fury’s contract situation as well is coming up soon, therefore, there’s nothing that can hold us from doing it.”

Ngannou, 35, is 17-3 in pro MMA having put together a six-fight win streak following successive losses in 2018. He won the heavyweight belt in March last year, with a second-round knockout of then-champion Stipe Miocic, then came through his first defence in dominant fashion against No 1-ranked contender Gane.

“I think the UFC is a great promotion and I want to keep fighting,” Ngannou said. “Tyson Fury is not my last fight. I want to keep fighting after Tyson Fury. There’s still a lot of fights out there.

“There’s Jon Jones, there’s a trilogy with Stipe [they first fought in January 2018, with Miocic the victor], there’s big fights I can do in the UFC, so I would really like that to happen. I would really like also to get to a common point.

"Yes, I can do Tyson Fury on my own, but what next? I would like to keep fighting. I would like for us to come to an agreement, but for that they have to have a good understanding of the situation.”

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Updated: April 26, 2022, 7:11 AM