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16 Jan, 2023 16:21

Russian organization offers deal to exiled former UFC champion

Francis Ngannou has left the UFC and is no longer its heavyweight champion
Russian organization offers deal to exiled former UFC champion

Former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s departure from the UFC could present an opportunity to Russian fight league Hardcore Boxing, which has reportedly made a multi-million-dollar offer to secure the Cameroonian powerhouse’s services.

Ngannou, perhaps the most feared knockout artist in the history of the UFC, is officially a free agent following the expiration of his contract, with UFC boss Dana White telling the media in Las Vegas this past weekend that he turned down the biggest heavyweight contract the organization has ever offered to instead test his value on the open market.

It was thought that Ngannou had requested a provision in any new contract to permit him to take on challenges in the boxing ring – a factor that UFC brass were apparently unwilling to allow, even after he was linked last year to a high-profile bout opposite boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

But if Ngannou is looking for an attractive payday in the boxing ring, he need look no further than Russian fight league Hardcore Boxing, according to its chief Anatoly Sulyanov.

We have good news today – Francis Ngannou has finally left the UFC,” Sulyanov announced online, via translation.

So, Francis, I have an offer for you – three million dollars for one fight in Hardcore Boxing on March 18 in Dubai against my heavyweight champion Soslan Asbarov. 

We have already sent contract to your manager and waiting for your response. Guys let's do it!

There has been no immediate response from Ngannou’s representatives regarding the offer – though it remains to be seen exactly when Ngannou would be available for a return to action after suffering a serious injury to his knee in December 2021, just weeks out from what proved to be his final fight in the UFC, against Ciryl Gane.

Asbarov, meanwhile, is 3-0 in his still-developing career but impressed in his most recent fight last month, where he defeated the then 14-3 American fighter Joel Shojgreen by knockout just 58 seconds into the first round.

Prior to that Asbarov earned a comprehensive unanimous-decision victory against fellow Russian Dmitry Kudryashov – a fighter who had 28 more professional fights than Asbarov.

It remains to be seen exactly which direction Ngannou will take for his next career move, with serious interest expected from several different mixed martial arts organizations in securing his signature.

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