Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor believes Francis Ngannou made an “error” by vacating his heavyweight title and leaving the promotion.
Ngannou parted ways with the promotion earlier this year after his contract expired. He left as the reigning king who had notched a defense in his last outing — a unanimous victory over Ciryl Gane in January 2022 at UFC 270.
In a recent interview with ESPN, “The Predator” revealed that he was in talks with multiple other mixed martial arts promotions, specifically ONE Championship and PFL. But, Ngannou said his first priority was to compete in a boxing match, and that he had former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in his crosshairs for a two-bout series.
When McGregor appeared on “The MMA Hour” this Wednesday, he gave his take on The Predator’s decision to leave the UFC to pursue other combat sports opportunities. First, McGregor pointed to the former heavyweight champion using the UFC’s facilities to rehab his knee which he had surgery on after the Gane fight.
“Ngannou — think of all he got,” McGregor said. “Okay, he had his injury. Think of all he got. He was in that [Performance Institute] using all the equipment, everything. There was no dough on that. There would have been no charge on that. He’s getting accommodation, he’s getting everything sorted.”
McGregor Doesn’t Think Ngannou Had the Right Timing to Make the Move
Considering Ngannou had already been inactive for around a year before he left the UFC, McGregor said it would’ve been best for The Predator to step into the Octagon on more time before he potentially made a move.
“I thought he made an error, to be honest,” he said. “He hasn’t fought in a minute, get a bout under the belt. And then maybe start. I wasn’t sure why he done that, to be honest. It kind of took the shine off from how it went.”
According to McGregor, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has been in contact with Ngannou. The Matchroom Boxing head has several high-profile boxers in his stable, including undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor.
“Look, I wish him well,” McGregor said. “I know Eddie Hearn is talking to him. I was chatting Eddie.”
Ngannou Teased Wilder as His Return Opponent
During the ESPN interview, Ngannou made it clear that Wilder was on the top of his list as his first official opponent outside of the UFC. And he revealed that they had made “some sort of verbal agreement.”
“The most that we have spoken is [with] Deontay Wilder’s team,” Ngannou said. “Yes, we’ve been having some exchanges and basically coming to some sort of a verbal agreement that we want to fight each other. We want to fight two fights. We want to fight maybe one of those fights in Africa. Or maybe two of those fights in Africa — which would be massive, which would be great.
“You know next year, I think it’s August next year is the 50th anniversary of Rumble in the Jungle, and I think that would be an opportunity to do something massive in Africa — a big event. We are looking at something around that timeline as well for the potential second fight, which would be, in my opinion, still in boxing.”