UFC CEO, Dana White, recently confessed being stunned at the outcome of the bout between former UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, and heavyweight boxing champion, Tyson Fury. Despite his mixed feelings towards Ngannou, White couldn’t help but give respect to the ex-UFC heavyweight champ for going toe-to-toe with Fury and lasting the scheduled 10 rounds, a feat he described as ‘crazy’ during an appearance on Donald Trump Jr.’s Triggered video podcast.
The gist of his amazement was not unattached to his initial dismissal of the fight as a gimmick bout that Ngannou had miscalculated in choosing over re-signing with UFC. White found it almost unbelievable that Ngannou pulled off a 10 round slugfest against the revered Fury. Comparing UFC fighters who crossed over to boxing, he pointed out, “He just went 10 rounds with Tyson Fury. Conor McGregor made it 9 or 10 with Floyd. Anthony Pettis just beat Roy Jones Jr. I know Roy is friggin’ 60 years old or whatever, but I don’t know what the hell is going on. It’s crazy.”
Discussing Ngannou’s transition to boxing and potential future defections of UFC fighters for more lucrative paydays, White echoed a surprisingly equanimous sentiment. “At some point, everybody is going to move on. Everybody has to do what’s right for them and make money for their families; so whatever they’ve got to do, they’ve got to do”, he said.
This, however, did not mean that White was willing to provide fighters with boxing opportunities, dismissing the idea of UFC venturing into the boxing promotion business. Talking about the structure of the boxing industry, he stated emphatically, “Every time I get on the phone with one of these boxing guys, I go, ‘What the f*** am I doing?’ These guys are all horrible to deal with.”
Trump Jr. further pointed out the potential corruption creeping into the sport due to its reward scheme. Unlike UFC, where fighters earn between 15-20% of the revenue, boxing promoters take a less share of the profits than fighters. In a quite instructive response, White highlighted the essence of adopting a business model in sports. When you talk about the NFL, NBA, MLB, they took football, basketball, and baseball, and created a business out of it. White concluded, reiterating his reservations about boxing’s structure, “That’s what we did with fighting and it just can’t be done with boxing.”