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Fumbling the Bag: Ngannou Hits Back in Saudi Arabia

Francis Ngannou: Complicated Departure from the UFC
Image Credit: Mike Tyson, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Several months on from departing with the UFC in unusual fashion, Francis Ngannou continues to poke fun at those who accused him of fumbling the bag. 

At the beginning of this year, it was announced that UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou had been stripped of his title and that he would not be resigning with the company. The Cameroonian instantly became the hottest free agent in the world of combat sports. 

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Although he had publicly expressed interest in pursuing a big-name boxing fight, almost all prominent MMA promotions made a play for “The Predator”. Scott Coker of Bellator and ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodton both said they were in talks with the heavyweight, as well as BKFC chairman David Feldman. 

It soon became abundantly clear that however you viewed his complicated departure from the UFC – Francis Ngannou still had options. As negotiations continued, it was revealed that the former heavyweight champion had declined an alleged $20 million deal from ONE, as well as a historic financial offer from the UFC. 

Even after signing with the PFL under groundbreaking terms, sceptics questioned whether Ngannou had made the right decision. His deal made him an equity owner of PFL Africa, a regional league (like PFL Europe) that the promotion plans on launching in 2025, granted him a position to fight on the PFL’s PPV MMA cards whilst also allowing him to fight in professional boxing under a separate contract.

It granted him seemingly everything he was asking for and more.

Characteristically, Francis Ngannou remained confident in his star power, mocking critics on Twitter months before signing for the biggest fight of his career against Tyson Fury. His unwavering belief in himself is what allowed him to take such a risk and ride it to success.

Now mere days away from being laced into 10oz gloves for his first professional boxing match, Francis Ngannou continues to laugh off the narrative that he made the wrong decision The knockout merchant has travelled to Saudi Arabia sporting a custom-made duffel bag which reads “Fumbled the Bag”, bashing doubters in perhaps the most on the nose way possible.

This is not where the self-promotion stops, however. In what could be said to be a stroke of marketing genius, Francis Ngannou has trademarked the term “FUMBLED THE BAG” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – a move that was made as far back as July 2023. In turn, he will likely use the trademark for merchandise in the near future. 

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According to Tyson Fury, Ngannou will be making a purse of $10 million for the fight, in what promises to be a spectacle regardless of what critics may say.

In under a year, “The Predator” has managed to secure a super-fight that will pay more in one night than what he earned in over a decade as a professional fighter.

If this is what fumbling the bag looks like, I implore more athletes to take a risk and try it.


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