Francis Ngannou made headlines by performing better than expected in his professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury.
The former UFC Heavyweight Champion was given little to no chance against the Brit, but flipped that script by scoring a knockdown in the third round before making it to the final bell and losing on a close split decision.
Two-weight world champion Andre Ward has strong thoughts on the matter, believing it to be yet another example of the sanctioning bodies playing politics.
Asked by Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour if he agreed with the decision, Ward said no.
“You’ve got guys that have been labouring to get into that top 10. I’m gonna call it what it is – it’s like politics. That’s what it is with the sanctioning bodies. Mauricio [Sulaiman] he gets all in an uproar when I talk about these things, he wants to message me on WhatsApp, and he needs to stop messaging me and make sure he’s doing the right things by the company.”
The Olympic Gold Medalist who retired from his pro career with 32 wins and zero losses said that it was playing with fighters’ livelihoods.
“You don’t get to pick and choose which guy gets in the rankings depending on who you know or what’s going on in the back room. Ngannou did a great job, but that’s a one off. He has to establish himself. They do whatever they want to do. The problem that I have with that… If we weren’t paying them 3% to keep the company going, you don’t make money outside of what the fighters are paying you.
If we weren’t paying that, you do what you want to do. If you just want to have these rankings and it doesn’t really affect the fighters, that’s your business. This stuff affects guys’ livelihoods. Guys get phonecalls saying ‘hey man, we were getting close to a title shot we’re not gonna get out now cause they bumped you out the top ten.’ How? I’ve been played around with the rankings, and I just gave the belt back to the WBC at a certain time.”
Ward ended on a note of ‘no respect’ for the sanctioning bodies.
The sanctioning bodies, I have no respect for the way they play with these rankings, play with guys’ livelihoods and play with guys’ careers. Shame.”
It’s unclear how long Ngannou will hang around in the top ten should his next fight be under the banner of MMA organisation, PFL.