After a glittering career in mixed martial arts (MMA), which saw him become a world champion and a fan favorite in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Francis Ngannou is set to make his boxing debut at the age of 37.
The former UFC heavyweight champion is jumping in the deep end, too, as he is set to face Tyson Fury in Riyadh on October 28. The Gypsy King’s WBC heavyweight title is not on the line in the Middle East, but the international boxing organization has confirmed it will be an official bout with 10 rounds and three judges.
It will come as no surprise that the Fury Ngannou odds are heavily in the Gypsy King’s favor. Still, the Cameroonian has serious power in his punches and initially trained to be a boxer before being convinced to go down the MMA route. So, this is by no means a foregone conclusion.
As fight night approaches, let’s take a look at some of Ngannou’s best moments in the octagon during his seven-year UFC career.
UFC debut against Luis Henrique
Where better to start than with the 37-year-old’s maiden UFC appearance? The promotion signed Ngannou after going 5-1 in European promotions, and he made a big statement on his stateside debut against the more experienced Luis Henrique on the preliminary card of dos Anjos vs Cowboy 2 in Orlando in December 2015.
It was in the second round that Ngannou ended the fight. Henrique was on the receiving end of a barrage of punches from the Cameroonian, but a vicious, left-handed uppercut sent the Brazilian to the canvas. The referee was forced to dive in before Ngannou could inflict more damage on the mat.
Ngannou’s first performance of the night against Anthony Edwards
Ngannou was awarded the Performance of the Night accolade on an impressive six occasions throughout his UFC career, including three times when he stopped Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Stipe Miocic.
His first time receiving the $50,000 bonus was against Anthony Hamilton on his fourth appearance for the promotion in 2016, and it was arguably one of his most impressive performances. It’s the only time in his UFC career that Ngannou faced someone taller than him, but Hamilton’s height advantage didn’t matter, as the Cameroonian made him tap out with a brutal kimura in the first round.
It was also the only time Ngannou won by submission in his UFC career.
Revenge against Miocic
Ngannou earned a crack at the UFC heavyweight belt when beating Alistair Overeem in a title eliminator at UFC 218 in December 2017. Just one month later, he took on then-champion Miocic for the silverware at UFC 220 in Boston.
However, the American won by unanimous decision after a grueling five-round battle. It took over three years, but Ngannou got his revenge at UFC 260 in March 2021 — knocking out Miocic in the second round at UFC Apex in Las Vegas to win the heavyweight belt.
Successful defense of the title and unifying heavyweight division
In January 2022, Ngannou faced the unbeaten Ciryl Gane. It was the first defense of his heavyweight title, and it headlined UFC 270 at the Honda Center in California.
Gane beat Derrick Lewis, who had previously defeated Ngannou in 2018, in a fight for the interim heavyweight title in August 2021 — and went into this unification fight with a 10-0 record. If that wouldn’t make life tough enough for Ngannou, he injured his knee just weeks before the event.
Gane started the better and won the first two rounds, but Ngannou dug deep to get back into the fight and ultimately won via unanimous decision. It was the first time in his career that the Cameroonian won on the judge’s scorecards. He later left the UFC and vacated his belt.