Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou admits Tyson Fury packs a pretty good punch.

Cameroon’s Ngannou made a name  for himself in the boxing world, in October, when he went the distance against WBC titlist Fury in their 10-round “crossover” bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ngannou shocked viewers when he dropped Fury with a hook in the third round, seemingly confirming to many that the mixed martial artist had legitimate punching power.  

But in an interview with Shannon Sharpe on Sharpe’s podcast Club Shay Shay, Ngannou pointed out there were moments that Fury’s punches had him reeling as well.

“He hits pretty good,” Ngannou said of Fury. “Punchers [in MMA] are not as strong as boxers. They (boxers) have the speed, they know how to throw it and everything. He hits pretty good. I ate some good shots. I was like ‘f---,’ you know?

“But it was a pretty good shot. It’s good when you feel a punch; that means you are still up.”

Ngannou said he never really believed he had Fury in dire straits when he dropped him in the third round because the impact of the punch was lessened by Fury’s shoulder.  

“No, no, it was really nothing,” Ngannou said. “It wasn’t a strong punch, so I know that he’s gonna get up. It was a punch that hit his shoulder first before it his temple.”

“Everyone will go down,” Ngannou said if he connects cleanly on his power punches. “Everyone will go down with a clean shot.”

“I was there to fight and to win,” Ngannou continued. “He’s the champion. I had to go after him. I wasn’t going there to count. My game plan was not to count him and to survive. My game plan was to fight and to win and to dictate my own rule. That was the game plan. I’m coming after you to win. In order to do that I have to walk [toward him].”

Ngannou, who is under contract with the PFL, has called for a rematch with Fury but that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Fury is busy preparing for the undisputed heavyweight championship against unified champion Oleksandr Usyk on Feb. 17 in Riyadh.

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing