Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou defied all expectations on Saturday, with his impressive performance against Tyson Fury.
Ngannou gave Fury, the reigning WBC world champion, all he could handle in their non-title crossover fight in Saudi Arabia.
Very few expected Ngannou to last the entire ten round distance. The vast majority of observers had tabbed him to get stopped at some point.
Ngannou quickly gave the presence of a dangerous opponent in the early rounds.
The entire venue was shocked when Ngannou connected with a big left hand to drop Fury in the third round. Most of those in attendance were on their feet during the eight, when Fury seemed to be in some trouble as Ngannou was unloading with both hands. Fury also suffered a cut on his forehead from an Ngannou uppercut.
In the end, Fury came away with a ten round split decision victory. Two judges had it 95-94 and 96-93 for Fury, while a third had it 95-94 for Ngannou.
The MMA veteran believes he did enough to pull out a win.
“If he’s being honest, he would say that I won that fight, I won that fight, there’s not a question about it, but even before getting here, I knew that if the fight would get to a decision, I’m not winning, not because I didn’t do good, but because I’m the new guy in the house," Ngnannou told ESPN.
Fury is now slated to return to action on December 23, also in Saudi Arabia, where he will step in the ring with WBO, IBF, IBO, WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk. Because of the damage Fury took against Ngannou, there is now a possibility that Fury-Usyk will be pushed back to a later date. A decision on the matter will be made in the coming days.