The two champions had been trading barbs on social media regarding a MMA vs. boxing superfight, but on Saturday night with Fury and Ngannou standing together in the ring, it made the potential bout feel almost inevitable.
On the latest episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Francis Ngannou explained how the moment came together. He said:
"Everybody let me into the ring, nobody is gonna stand in my way. If you were there, could you stand in my way? Basically, the man of the night doesn't have any problem with that, if he invite me, nobody's gonna stand between both of us ... I was a little surprised, to be honest. I didn't know that was what he was gonna do. I though he was gonna say something but not brought me into the [ring]."
Asked if he felt like a Ngannou vs. Fury fight was close, 'The Predator' replied:
"Well, I would say I don't know how close it is, but it's very clear that this fight is going to happen because both of us, we want this fight. That's clear. We respect eachother as you can see. The guy just earned the moment, he was the man of the night. He could have just stood there and been cocky like 'Oh I'm this, I'm that.' But he called me into the ring and he spoke to me very respectfully, as a champion. And I respect him as well. So I think it's going to happen."
"I think it's just a matter of the promotion, the contract situation, and everything. But we're going to sort this out at some point. Probably next year this fight is going to happen realistically."
Watch the full episode of The MMA Hour featuring Francis Ngannou below:
Francis Ngannou is in a complicated contractual situation with the UFC
The main thing stopping Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury from fighting is Ngannou's contract with the UFC.
Ngannou fought out the last bout of his contract against Ciryl Gane in January 2022. Because he won, a champion's clause may come into effect that adds fights to that contract. However, according to Ngannou and his manager, there is a 'sunset clause' in his deal that terminates the contract at the end of five years.
The five-year mark comes at the end of 2022, and if Francis Ngannou can walk away from the UFC free and clear, there's little doubt a Fury vs. Ngannou fight will come together in 2023.