Sityodtong, CEO of ONE Championship, is amazed to see Ngannou’s profile rise in the combat sports world after taking a huge gamble in leaving the UFC as champion, and perhaps taking an even bigger one by stepping in the ring with WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
“He nailed it. Congrats to Francis,” Sityodtong told Brendan Schaub. “The whole world was skeptic, and he proved everyone wrong, so congratulations to him. He’s making history. I honestly thought him fighting Tyson Fury was crazy, beforehand. But when the fight unfolded, I was like, ‘Oh my Gosh. He actually thinks in there and beat Tyson.’ I thought Francis beat Tyson.
“All you can do is applaud and congratulate Francis. I’m like, ‘Man, he crafted his own destiny. He’s one in eight billion, and he’s proving it.’ Again, I have nothing but good things to say about Francis.”
Sityodtong and Ngannou were briefly linked during Ngannou’s free agent days. There are contrasting versions of that story, as Sityodtong claims ONE was in talks with Ngannou for a potential signing, but later chose to withdraw, while Ngannou claims Sityodtong was just “performing” and that there weren’t any serious discussions for him to join the promotion.
They both did confirm they had a three-hour meeting in Los Angeles prior to Ngannou signing with PFL for his MMA career.
Sityodtong feels Ngannou’s success has put him over any MMA entity. He also gives him credit for betting on himself.
“He’s beholden to nobody,” Sityodtong explained. “When you can fight the very best in the world the way he did with Tyson, and actually beat Tyson, like for lack of a better analogy, he’s now Mike Tyson. You call the shots.
“It was a high-risk, high-reward strategy, and it worked out beautifully. Given his life stories of working the mines in Cameroon, living in the streets of Paris homeless, his life should be a movie.”