In an exclusive interview with Betway, Michael Bisping looks ahead to Fury vs Ngannou.
With Tyson Fury taking on a big puncher in Francis Ngannou, is Fury’s fight with Usyk at risk?
If Ngannou can connect then Fury and Usyk will be in danger, 100 per cent. That’s the gamble Fury is taking and he has to be careful. Every time you underestimate an opponent, that’s when the opponent can come back to bite you. We’ve seen it before when a champion comes in far too cocky thinking he can walk through the guy, and they get served a real big piece of humble pie, so this fight is a real gamble for Fury. What happens if he gets knocked out? What if one of those Ngannou missiles lands? The lights go out for Tyson Fury, but also on the Oleksandr Usyk fight as well.
How does Francis Ngannou beat Fury?
He cannot go in there and look to box Tyson Fury, if he tries to box Fury he’s going to get embarrassed. He needs to turn it into a brawl. He needs to brawl with the boxer. And just because Fury’s great doesn’t mean Francis doesn’t have a chance, it doesn’t mean he cannot cause the upset.
These are two human beings and in the heavyweight division one shot can change everything. Francis doesn’t have the skill or experience, but he has that equaliser. That raw power. He hits harder than Tyson Fury. And If I’m training Francis I’d tell him to wrestle Fury. Not like we saw on the KSI-Tommy Fury show, but engage him in a clinch and throw him into a corner.
If he can get hold of him, he can use his wrestling skills to throw him into the corner and then unleash. And then rinse and repeat. Corner him where he’s got nowhere to hide and then throw a whirlwind of hooks and one of those unpredictable shots could find the mark. And if one does land, Tyson Fury could hit the canvas because Francis Ngannou is the hardest puncher Fury’s faced, Francis hits harder than Deontay Wilder without question.
When you look at Francis Ngannou and his life, coming from a more than humble background, working in the sand mines of Cameroon, it’s a harder fight to get out of the sand mines of Cameroon and becoming the UFC heavyweight champion of the world, than it is to go in there and beat Tyson Fury. Anything is possible.
Francis needs some crazy self-belief to convince yourself that he can dethrone probably the greatest boxer of his generation in your very first contest. I’m sure he has confidence in his ability and I expect him to go for it. I expect he’s going to try and knock him out. But I’m sure there’s a part of himself that doesn’t necessarily believe he can win.
If he does believe, a lot of people would call him a delusional fool, because what a statement to make: “I’m going to beat the heavyweight boxing champion in my first boxing match”, people would laugh you out of town. That said, he has insane punching power, he’s the former champion, he’s brought in Mike Tyson. He’s doing everything he can to compete with Fury. I’m sure a part of him does believe he can do it, but there’s probably a part of him that thinks “I’m going to give it my best shot.”
Should he approach the fight like Mike Tyson?
If he tries to model himself on Mike Tyson, he’s on a path to losing his fight. No disrespect to Mike Tyson, but he’s different to Ngannou – different skill set, shorter, ridiculously fast feet, insane head movement. Mike Tyson could do things that Ngannou won’t be able to do. Francis isn’t a short guy and does not have the technical brilliance of a Mike Tyson.
I understand him bringing the experience of Tyson and it will be valuable. Particularly the mindset of a fighter. Francis is fighting for respect in the boxing community. I’m sure there are a lot of people laughing at this, they see it as a joke, they see it as a sideshow, an exhibition for Tyson Fury to mock Ngannou, so it’s up to Francis to rock the apple cart to get the respect and Mike Tyson will be able to help him shut out the negativity and to help him to believe in himself.
Did you see Ronaldo give Ngannou a £90k watch?
I think Ronaldo has given Ngannou that £90k watch maybe because he just respects the man taking on this challenge and the respect for the journey he’s been on in life. Ronaldo’s probably thinking: “You’re going in there in your first fight against this unbeaten champion so I want to show my respect”. It will be a nice keepsake, a little memento for Francis.
I have my own watch story. The watch I’m currently wearing was given to me by the Sheik of Dubai after I defeated Dan Henderson. I had a phone call to my room, the voice said “someone wants to see you”. I went down and the representative from the Sheik of Dubai said “his excellency would have liked to have met you but he’s on business, but he’d like to welcome you to the country” and he gave me this nice Rolex. I’ll always have that story attached to it. Francis will have the same thing. It’ll become a family heirloom. It’ll triple in price in no time.
Why do you think Conor McGregor v Michael Chandler happens at UFC 300?
The reason I say Conor will likely return at UFC 300 is because we’re in October and we’ve got a PPV in November, December, January, February, March and April. That’s six months. That’s six months in the testing pool and six UFC events from now. Just do the maths. That brings us to UFC 300, that’s not official but it all just lines up perfectly. McGregor is also that kind of star that will want something special. He’s not going to be on PPV in Brazil or Canada; they’re going to have him on at Madison Square Garden, maybe Abu Dhabi, or maybe the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
How do you see the fight playing out?
McGregor has achieved so much in his career and has inspired so many young fighters who see the riches this man has and it’s incredible. But – and this is not based upon personal feelings, we don’t have a good relationship, I used to know him a little bit, but now we don’t talk – you only have one peak in your career. You go up and down the mountain. He’s been a two weight champion and now he’s gradually coming down the other side.
No shame in losing to Dustin and Khabib, but he lost to them. Then you factor in the leg break. It’ll be almost three years if he does come back in April. Then you factor in his lifestyle – he’s enjoying himself and rightly so. If I had a billion dollars I’d be prancing around a yacht. But is it conducive to being one of the best fighters in the world still? I don’t know. And then Michael Chandler is a gym rat. He’s giving motivation talks to the next generation. Bettering himself in wrestling and jiu-jitsu and he’s sat there obsessing about Conor McGregor the whole time.
But on the flipside, one of the things that made Conor McGregor so great is that – and it’s the same with Jon Jones and Mike Tyson – these aren’t normal people. They don’t think like normal people. They don’t need to obsess over someone. They can stroll back after a little bit of a camp and knock someone out and then disappear to ride around the world in a Lamborghini yacht. If any one can do that it’s McGregor and the reality is, in six months, a lot can change. People may see him partying now but six months of hard training can change a lot. It’s a competitive fight. Does he win? No. Chandler wins, but he will need to take him into the deeper rounds.
Conor is always more dangerous in round one. If Chandler can use his wrestling and take him later in the fight, Conor has always had problems the later a fight goes. So that would be my strategy. But Chandler, despite being the most polite person you’ve ever met, turns into a complete psycho when the ref says “fight” and he goes running at his opponent and swings. Conor better hope that version shows up because if he does it will become a coin toss who wins. But if Chandler shoots a double leg, pushes him up against the fence, holds him down and drags him out into the later rounds, takes him into deep water and drowns him, he’ll be victorious.