The two-time UFC middleweight champion had front row seats for Ngannou’s boxing debut against Tyson Fury, having been part of Ngannou’s walk to the ring in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. That meant he was close enough to feel the ripples of Ngannou’s third-round knockdown of Fury, not to mention the rest of his friend’s valiant performance that ended in Fury winning a narrow split decision.
While Adesanya can’t give you a round-by-round breakdown of his scoring, he knows an unforgettable moment when he sees onse.
“I wasn’t scoring the fight, because I was in the zone,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I was bobbing and weaving. You know when you watch someone you care about fight? You’re just ‘mom’s spaghetti,’ sweaty, so I was just watching the fight. He was holding his own, it was good, he was doing the things they were working on backstage.
“[After the knockdown] I lost my s***. … We just lost it. Me and [Junior Dos Santos] were up and down, and I was just, it was just a moment. It’s almost like it was meant to happen. I don’t know if that makes sense. It was meant to happen, the knockdown. The way he knocked me down. And then doing that in front of him. I just lost my s***. I didn’t know what was what after that.”
Two of the judges scored the fight for Fury, with one giving Ngannou a 95-94 score, meaning that the former UFC heavyweight champion was just a point or two away from upsetting boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion.
Several of the rounds may have been tossups by the strictest definition of scoring. But as far as vibes go, Adesanya knows who he thinks won the fight.
“I thought [Ngannou] won, but I was just like, it’s a close fight, but I felt if you were in the arena, if you were watching, when you watch a fight you know who won,” Adesanya said. “You just know who won. I wasn’t really scoring the fight, you know—even them two, they know. You know who wins a fight, because you’re in there with that person, and those who are watching you.
“But then I was very wary of the judges, I just knew boxing gonna boxing. Not saying MMA doesn’t have it as well, but imagine … I’ve been there before, I can relate, so I just knew. I wasn’t confident in the judges, because I knew for a guy with zero boxing fights to come in there in his debut boxing fight, not even as an amateur, and beat the reigning lineal champion, the bureaucrats in boxing would not like that.”
Currently, Adesanya is on a self-imposed hiatus from competition after losing the UFC middleweight title in a one-sided decision loss to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 this past September. It’s not clear when “The Last Stylebender” will return, given that he’s taking a much-needed break after facing elite competition for the past few years.
Asked what he thinks Ngannou should do, Adesanya said he’d like to see Ngannou put the boxing on hold for a moment, if only to see him compete in the cage again.
“Before this fight, no one wanted to watch Francis [box] anyone,” Adesanya said. “They were like, ‘He doesn’t have a chance, never.’ Now he’s a superstar, everybody’s going to be ‘Of course, fight my guy.’ What do I want to see? I haven’t thought about it, to be honest, but the first thing I want to see him in MMA. … With who? I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking that far.
“But if there’s anything—Because I like fighting. I like Francis boxing, it’s exciting, yes, but I say put him with—I don’t know, f***, I didn’t think that far ahead. I just want to see him use f****** all f****** limbs. When we see him in those shorts with those f****** legs and arms, and he looks like f****** juggernaut, slings that leg at someone. Patient Francis hits that jab. That’s my pugilism is mixed martial arts, even though I love boxing. I still want to see him fight.”
This story originally appeared on MMA fighting