UFC Heavyweight King Francis Ngannou Gives Update on Fighting Return

Francis Ngannou

Getty Francis Ngannou

Current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is sitting on the sidelines while he recovers from knee surgery, but he hopes to return to active competition in December or early next year.

After “The Predator” defended his title against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January, he revealed that he had suffered ligament injuries in his knee prior to the bout.

“It was pretty bad,” Ngannou said during the event’s post-fight press conference. “I have a grade 3 MCL (tear), I have damage on my ACL and damage on my MPFL. That was 25 days ago.”

“This sport is very dangerous and you can hurt yourself all the time,” Ngannou continued, explaining why he decided to fight anyway. “So if you think there’s a chance you can do it, I think you have to do it. I believe in myself and I’ve been through a lot of stuff in my life. That must be a dumb decision, but I didn’t want to withdraw from the fight. I was very confident about my skills to win this fight.”

Ngannou is now three months removed from his surgery, and when TMZ caught up with him this week, The Predator shared his recovery timeline.

“It’s getting better,” Ngannou said via Low Kick MMA. “Pretty good, it wasn’t easy but we’re getting there. It’s been only three months so yes, I’m still doing physical therapy. If everything goes well, I will be ready by the end of the year because it is going to be nine months. So let’s say late December or early next year.”

Ngannou & the UFC Are Locked in a Contract Dispute & The Predator Will Worry About That Closer to His Return

Ngannou and the UFC haven’t seen eye to eye in terms of the champion’s fighting future. Mostly, The Predator wants to battle heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury in the ring, but the nature of UFC’s exclusivity contracts impedes him from doing so.

And when Ngannou heals up, he’ll be a free agent.

The Predator wants to re-sign with the UFC, but he also wants the promotion to allow him to box “The Gypsy King.” It’s unclear if the UFC will oblige.

So, when asked who he plans on fighting when he returns, Ngannou said:

“For now, let’s fight for the situation and get everything squared up. Then when I get close to the return we will see where the landscape is at because a lot of things can happen.”

Ngannou Said in April That He Wants to Box Fury Next, Then Continue Fighting in the UFC

Ngannou was featured on Ariel Helwani’s “MMA Hour” podcast a few months back and he dove further into his boxing demand.

“The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion,” Ngannou said about renegotiating with the UFC. “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.”

If Ngannou manages to box Fury next after signing a new contract, he told Helwani that he’d continue fighting in the UFC.

“I think the UFC is a great promotion and I want to keep fighting,” Ngannou continued. “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 [Miocic], there’s big fight 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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