Ngannou took WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to a split decision this past Saturday in Saudi Arabia. Ngannou surpassed everyone’s expectations as he even managed to knock down undefeated Fury in Round 3.
Ngannou’s performance came after he parted ways with the UFC earlier this year while still holding the promotion’s heavyweight title. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract, with Ngannou’s desire to pursue boxing opportunities a sticking point. Ngannou left the UFC and signed with the PFL, which did give him flexibility to box in his contract.
Although UFC CEO Dana White criticized Ngannou’s move to PFL earlier this year, Cormier thinks the former heavyweight champion’s impressive boxing debut benefits everyone in MMA – including the UFC.
“You see Junior dos Santos, Izzy (Adesanya), Kamaru (Usman), the legend Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC.” “So many great mixed martial artists were in attendance last weekend to watch Francis Ngannou do something that was unprecedented, was unexpected, and really did turn out better than anyone ever could have expected.
“There’s this idea that the UFC is upset that Francis Ngannou did what he did. Why would they be? Francis Ngannou uplifted the entire sport last weekend. Francis Ngannou went out there as a mixed martial arts world champion and fought the lineal heavyweight champion of the world and lost by split decision.”
Cormier scored the fight 95-94 in favor of Fury but explained what he meant when he said Fury didn’t win the fight.
“Even though Tyson Fury won the ‘boxing match’ because he won the ‘boxing match,’ he did not win a fight,” Cormier said. “He didn’t win the fight against Francis Ngannou. Francis won that. He won the ‘boxing match,’ and he won the scorecards. Who ultimately lost the night was Tyson Fury. Francis won.”
For more on the matchup, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Fury vs. Ngannou.
This story originally appeared on MMA Junkie