Deontay Wilder Open to Boxing, MMA Series with Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou UFC 270
Francis Ngannou, UFC 270 press conference Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Francis Ngannou is the biggest free agent in all of combat sports at the moment, and options are beginning to present themselves for his next move.

On Thursday, heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder appeared on the Trill Boxing Talk podcast, expressing an interest in a two-fight series that would see Ngannou try his hand at boxing — and Wilder himself set foot in the cage.

It’s one of the more interesting, and arguably plausible, match-ups for “The Predator” at the moment, for a number of reasons. One of which is that Wilder is under contract to Showtime, who have been in the mix to secure Ngannou’s services. Showtime is also the broadcast home for Bellator MMA.

According to Wilder, a fight with Ngannou had been discussed before — with the UFC.

“I love Francis. When I met him at the Apex in Vegas, they was talking about doing it that time. I’m still interested in that fight,” Wilder revealed on Thursday. “I would love to go to Africa for that. I would love to do that in Africa.”

Wilder admitted that those discussions were “a long time ago,” when Ngannou was still working with the UFC and Dana White. It was White who brought up the idea of Wilder facing Ngannou — and while the UFC part of the equation is out, Ngannou is now a free agent, making a boxing match-up perhaps easier to get done.

“I’m very interested in it,” said Wilder, calling himself and Ngannou a pair of superheros.

“I even thought about this idea, though. I was like, all right, let’s make it a two-fight deal,” Wilder stated. “Everybody always comes to boxing, but let’s do this: You come to my sh*t, I come to yours. You know what I’m saying? You feel me? I’ll do it up. You come to my house, I come to yours. A true tea party. I’m a true warrior.”

“I’m serious about that,” Wilder added. “That’s something I thought about even from the first spark of the idea. I want to do something different. Since everybody always be crossing between combat sports, and the MMA guys always come to boxing, of course, they ain’t got no stand-up game as far as boxing is concerned. So it’s always going to be favored on the boxer’s side, because you’re in our territory. It’s just like being in the water with sharks, with a shark.”

Asked whether he had any MMA training, Wilder laughed. “Sh*t, I know how to whup an ass!” he joked, before admitting “I don’t have mixed martial arts experience, but of course if that happens, I’m going to be training and stuff like that, and go from there. I wouldn’t just go in not knowing nothing, ‘well man I did this in the streets,’ hell nah. If I would do it, I would really put for the effort. I’m going to give the fans what they want to see. I’m gonna really put forth the effort, training, because he’s going to be training for coming over where I am. Why would I not train for what he do? I might like the sh*t. I might cross over like, ‘this is my new home! Imma be kicking motherf*ckers out!”

“I could see it as being a beautiful thing,” Wilder stated later in the interview. “I’m speaking from my heart. It’s not just me thinking about the bigger picture of it. That’s just what my heart is telling me. It’s smiling when I think about this fight. It feels warm. Hopefully it comes to pass.”


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