MMA fighting

Israel Adesanya opens up about Francis Ngannou situation, hopes champ won’t quit UFC: ‘It would just be sad’

Israel Adesanya and Francis Ngannou combine to make up two-thirds of the “Three Kings,” a self-proclaimed nickname for the three African-born champions of the UFC. With Kamaru Usman rounding out the group, the trio are widely regarded as three of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and helped usher in a boom era for African MMA.

But the road has been strewn with pitfalls in recent months for Ngannou. The UFC heavyweight champion has been at an impasse with the promotion since his UFC 270 title defense against Ciryl Gane, publicly voicing his grievances against many of the UFC’s longstanding business practices and indicating his willingness to explore free will in 2023 if the situation does not improve. as he recovers from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his knee.

For Adesanya, it has been an unfortunate situation to watch.

“I felt like some of the stuff that was going on before the Francis fight, which I wasn’t a fan of,” Adesanya said Wednesday during a studio appearance on MMA hour.

“I just felt like some things should – like I said, it’s business, man. You can’t get too personal. It’s just business. And the money is always there’s money everywhere. You can find money everywhere. So for the UFC world heavyweight champion to get paid what he was paid was excruciating.

Ngannou earned a $600,000 purse for his UFC 270 title defense against Gane, which he won via unanimous decision despite essentially fighting on one leg.

Besides money, one of the main points of contention for Ngannou has been the heavyweight champion’s desire to box against Tyson Fury. Ngannou reiterated that desire after UFC 270, and he and Fury have repeatedly joked about a potential matchup on social media over the past few months. Ngannou’s team believes his contract will expire at the end of 2022, with Ngannou holding the belt, and the champion has said he is ready to test the open market if the UFC refuses to let him test himself in the boxing ring. .

Adesanya hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“I don’t want him to leave the UFC. It would just be sad,” Adesanya said. “I just, I feel like it’s the guy, you know? Look at him. And he is one of the three kings. I do not do it [want him to leave]. I may be selfish. But I just feel like I don’t even want him to box. Well, he wants to box – if he does, he should box. He can find something with the UFC and the contract. They left [Conor] McGregor does it, so they can figure something out.

“But I don’t want him to box. I’m like, you’re the baddest motherfucker on the planet. You know? I don’t want him to just use his hands. If you really want to fight Francis, to fight him. You know? And Tyson is the kind of guy who could do that. He is crazy. “Gypsy King”, he could do that. I just feel like it’s the best level of combat. I am not biased. I don’t care about kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, boxing – whatever style of fighting you do on your own, if it’s singular, it’s a limited form of fighting. If you want to fight legally, this is the way to do it. The UFC is the place to do it, where it’s like the highest level of fighting.