3 months ago
Francis Ngannou is a professional mixed martial artist and boxer currently signed to the Professional Fighters League. Ngannou is scheduled to fight boxer Tyson Fury on October 28. https://francisngannoufoundation.com
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What's up champ? How are you? I'm good. Good to see you. Good to see you again. So you have been on a journey my friend. A lot of things have happened. First of all congratulations on securing this fight. That is a big deal. A lot of people doubted it was going to happen. You were right. Thank you. Thank you. Yes. It was a big deal. It wasn't easy. But we finally get it. You know, I get a a help of a lot of people on the Saudi were very were very interesting about this fight. Yeah. It was one of those fights where you had to take a big gamble by relinquishing your UFC crown. And I didn't relinquish any relinquish it. Yeah. What? Tell me in that. Tell me what happened. Well, we didn't come to an agreement. You didn't come to an agreement. Yeah. So you decided I'm not signing with the UFC. You're a free agent. Yes. And then did the negotiations then start for the Tyson Fury fight? How did it how did it start? You know, it's been like four years since Tyson Fury and I we've been going back and forth on social media. So there was a little bit of a warm up somewhere there and. It kind of like take couple months before we get to to a conversation. You know, it wasn't just easy those boxing promotion. The boxing world is little while. Yeah. It's completely different. It's a different animal. In what way like you explained to us. The way that they do things, you know, it's a this guy from this promotion fighting with these against this guy from this promotion who has a better position, who has what to lose, who is getting what and then how to kind of like put things. I will not say manipulate but little bit like that. Everybody trying to adjust thing on his own benefit. Look what is good for him, which is good. But yeah. A lot of boxing fights don't get made. Yeah, they get talked about for a long time like Tyson Fury and Usyk for a long time was Terrence Crawford and Earl Spence. They get talked about for a long time and they almost get made and then they don't get made and they almost get made and they don't get made. A lot of politics behind a lot of promotion that would be behind the fight just to, you know, push their position. Yeah. Everybody's pushing his position is not more is not mostly about the fight. It's about like, okay, what we we control the game. Do we have enough control here? Do we control everything? Yeah. Yeah. So was it frustrating for you? Because I imagine there was a while where you weren't sure whether or not it was going to be made. It wasn't frustrating. You know, before I made my I made my decision when I separated with the UFC and I knew I mean, long time before like I remember even when I fought searing on before even before that fight. I was telling myself and I was even telling this on interview like, okay, if this is the end, then he has to end my way, you know, so not because I was sure that is going to happen. I knew that he could have not happened, right? But I was I was to be in peace with my decision. So that's that's the thing about it. And I'm very happy that he happens makes it even better. But I knew there was a risk that he didn't happen, but I had to take a chance. So what was the hold up with the UFC? Like what what what led you to not sign? There was a lot of frustration over the years. I think since my fight against my first fight against my relationship with the UFC never been the same. Really? Yeah. Why? In what way? I don't know. We try. I try everything. I wasn't I didn't I wasn't in the I feel like I wasn't in the right place. And after that, then I get the directly with fight who was like the worst fight. And that didn't help me at all. You know, so I was I think from that moment, I was already put in some position out there because I came back. I won. I won multiple fight and they came with a new deal. This was after Junior Docentos back in June 2017. And then they he was make we call for a new deal and then until my team was on the way to the negotiation who was in Anaheim when the and DC was fighting the second time. But the next time I was in the And then I'm like, no. Then I say no, no new deal for Francis. He has, he used to have three fights on his contract. And to be honest, I was even happy because I wanted to knock that deal out. By that time I understood a little bit about the market. I just wanted to fight out my contract and renegotiate as free, you know? But then, a month after we get a call from, I think, was Hunter or somebody there? Yeah? They say, oh, yeah, let's talk about a new deal for Francis. And at that time, like, there's not a new deal. We're like, we just won a fight, you know? It's already September, or, yeah, we are in September. And my last fight was in June, I won a fight. So the new deal staff be holding me back. They didn't give me a fight. So they wanted you to sign a new deal. They wanted me to find a new deal. If you didn't want to sign a new deal, you wanted to fight your contract down. I wanted to fight my contract down. So they were slowing things down. They were slowing things down. So if you see the interval between my junior docentals fight and your junior reasons through fight was almost a year. I mean, I feel, yeah, there was a COVID in between, but without COVID, it would have still be like 10 months. Right? And then from junior, from Rosenstruck to Stipe, same thing. Then Stipe to Serengan, almost the same thing. He was mostly about the contract. So then finally you fight out the contract and then what happens? We didn't come to a agreement at all because during this time there was a negotiation, pushing and stuff. And I wanted to fight out that contract. Proposal of money, obviously they know my position because I was pretty sure financially, when you have a fight, you expect to fight at least at that level, at that moment I was expecting to fight at least two or three time a year. Right? Then I get to the point that I have one fight, I have nothing. So I was limited of income, stuff like that. Then I started borrowing money. Even before the Stipe fight, when they announced that fight, I need to call to ask for events of my purse to finance my training camp. I have no money. But I was there training and getting ready for almost a year. So I took some events. So- That's gotta be very stressful. Yeah, but one thing, and that's one thing that I'm always grateful about my life. I used to this situation and I tell myself, these people they don't know me, I can live out of nothing. I live in the street, bro. And then I'm here in Las Vegas, you think, okay, I don't fight, I just have to change everything. I'm able to live out of the bare minimum. And I don't care if I walk around, you guys say, ho, ho, champ, ho, that's a UFC contender, whatever it is, man, I just live based off what is in my, based off my asset. I don't live beyond that. That's why I like, I don't really trust those credit card system or those loan and stuff. That's America shit, bro. I don't trust that. Because when he let you down, he let you down. Yeah, for sure. I check my wallet, whatever is in my wallet, I live based on that. I don't go loan and stuff unless I'm forced at some point or I'm, it's an investment, having, taking the money, borrowing money for your training camp. That's a different thing. So you win the Sierra Gond fight, then what happens? Well, then first dinner didn't come to the ring, to the octagon for the belt. Yeah, and then after that, they get this dinner, invite us to this dinner, trying to smooth things out. Again, the condition at that time, I think at that time for me, he was more than a contract. He was like a lot of frustration from the past almost three years. I'm like, okay, I have no guarantee that sign in this country, I will not get into what I have been to in the past three years. So however, I always change something that will make me feel secure. And what did you want to change? A lot of things. I want in my contract, first of all, I want to contract without extension because I have seen how they can abuse of those extension. Can you explain to me how the extension works? Oh, well, I mean, there's not a way that he works. The extension is that, because they say, if you deny a fight, they can extend you for six months or something if you're hurt and can fight, they can extend you for six months or something. But the problem, the UFC is the judge and the party. They decide if they will extend you, you have no say. So when they say, oh, you fight tomorrow, you say, no, I'm like, okay, no problem. We were just checking. And then maybe a week after you will receive a letter of extension, like your contract has been extended for six months. And that's what happened with me. Even if you're injured, like say if they propose a fight for you, like here we are in September. If they propose a fight for you in Madison Square Garden in November and you say, I can't because I'm injured. Oh no, that extension. Then they put up a six month extension contract. Oh yeah, that extension. Anytime you refuse a fight, is that what it is? Yeah. And refuse is subjective, depend of the term of suggestion. You can't fight because you're injured, like when you tore your knee ligaments. Oh no, that is an extension. Extension? Yeah, that's clearly an extension. For example, my extension, for example, the first one, when I force tipe, right? And I have been fighting almost once a year in the past three years. I forced tipe on March 27. And then April 2nd, Mick is calling my team. And I tell them like, oh, I wanna fight, stay active. I wanna fight twice this year again. Summer, which is July or August and December. And then April 2nd, they are calling to ask me to fight. And I was getting ready. It was a big moment in my life. I'm like, I'm bringing this truth in whom? This truth in whom, right? You're a champ now. Right. And this court to ask me if I can fight in June 12th. It was June 12th, June 6th or something like that. Bro, give me a time. I mean, they say, no, we were just offering in case because Francis said he wanna fight twice this year. I'm like, yes, I do. And I said, July the earliest and August and December. And I know that I can take one, two weeks, two, three weeks out, maybe go home, do stuff and come back. And I'm like, no, no, no, totally understandable. He was just to check in case his work for you. He wasn't really, couple months after, I received an extension about that. But you know why? Because my contract originally supposed to end in May 20th of that year. So if my contract end on May 20th at that year, that mean the championship close kicks in, which is one year. But if they extend me, I have to go all the way to the extension before the championship close kicks in. So it was more time. Yeah. And when they say, no, it's okay, no problem. We were just checking. And I was in Cameroon on May 19th. So one day before my original contract, which was 14 months, expired, and then the championship kick in, I received an extension letter. I was in Cameroon suffering of COVID at that time. So I received an extension letter. So now I'm extended onto November 20th. Even though you told them you wanted to fight in July. Yeah. So they just tack on. Oh no, they just tack on. And you have nothing to say. It's effective from the moment that they send that letter out. Okay, so your new contract, you wanted no extensions. That's one thing. Yeah, that's one thing. Okay. Was one of them the ability to box? One of them was the ability to box. They say that wasn't an option. Boxing is dead, it's not possible, this and that. Now, what does that feel like to you knowing that Conor McGregor did it and Floyd Mayweather made a hundred million dollars? What is that like for you to be sitting there being told that you can't box? Well, I don't use to, I don't use to take what people tell me for an answer. Right? Right. I used to do my own thing on my own way. And it seems to work pretty good. So, but I wasn't going to force to change everything. I wasn't expecting to go there and demand this, demand that and just have everything. It's like, it's a big company, it's like an institution. So there's a way that they do thing and that can change. So I'm like, okay, if that's, if so, let's take boxing out. Why? Because give me three fights, control of three fights. I was, I knew that I can knock a three fight contract in a year. Then from that moment I was free because I want a middle ground, like an alternative, a way to get out by giving something out, you know, to get something at the end. Got it. Because it's really hard to get in the negotiation and just like, oh, I want this, I want that, I want that. And stop there. At some point you have to compromise to push back, give something in order to get something. So stuff like that was the thing that I was about it. And that seems to be attractive to them. So one three fight deal, no extension, that seems to be attractive. Two fight was supposed to be potentially junjun's fight and rematch and one fight is the trilogy with Stippin. That was the request and work for both party. Then we get to, we get to another point, sponsorship deal. Why sponsorship deal? Because before that I had a deal, after the Stippin fight, I had a deal on the table for over a million dollar for a cryptocurrency wallet. So I was going to have like, I think 1.2 million, which is the money that I didn't, I never had in the fight. I was going to have that in the sponsorship. And the deal was this close to sign. And then they announced the crypto.com deal. And then the party pulled off, I'm like, bro, we can't do, you understand our position. You can be carried this in the octagon while behind we are trying to push. Did you try to make a deal with crypto.com? No, at that moment crypto.com, they don't care. Because they have a deal with you. They have to deal with the UFC. And you're going to wear it, whether you like it or not. You don't have a say. And now I'm like, I think this is messed up. I need, we need to solve this, I need a sponsorship. I need a right to have my own sponsor. Fighters should be able to have two, three sponsorship on their gears. I mean, I understand that we want to make this possible. I understand that we want to make this ball grow, make it nice. But we can also, meanwhile you can have a department who check all the sponsor like, oh no, this is not good because of this reason. It doesn't represent the sport wear, right? But there are a lot of good stuff out there that will also help fighter to provide, to get a little more money. And that was another discussion. I'm like, oh, you can't do that. That's not how. I'm like, okay. So what is working exactly? They make me some kind of like a proposal, which I don't know, it doesn't even make sense. But, and the other one was like, because of the fact that I was in this position for so long and I was just so powerless. The reason why I stay in this position, why I keep holding my ground was only because in the contract there is what they call the sunset close. So meaning like after five years from the beginning, from the day you signed a contract, doesn't matter what is in the contract, the contract expire. The extension, they can extend you past that date. So my end goal from the moment that I know that, okay, I'm gonna hold this ground. I know that I have to face some obstacle. So my end goal was the five years, the sunset. I had the sunset date in my mind, December 9th, 2022. I had that day in my mind for like almost three years. So when I was receiving all this extension letter, I mean, I couldn't fight it either way. But in my mind, I was just like, it's okay. One thing that I know, just focus on December 9th, 2022 and then you will be fine. So after that, then I'm like, okay, if I sign a new deal, I don't know, even if there's not extension, there have been a proof of like, how could I say in a nice way, abuse of power, right? But why are we in this position? This is the position that every fighter get into, right? I mean, be feeling powerless. We might be many hundreds of us, but it's every individual at time. We are very separated. Every case is separated. So which mean you're just weak, it's just you against big monster, which is the company, the institution so you can fight. How can we make it make sense? I mean, we are not going for union, but at least you guys sometime before make some decision, how about you have somebody in the room who can understand things from our perspective because I do believe that all the position that you might make who hurt us is not mean to hurt, but maybe just because you don't understand our position. Maybe if somebody there speaking for us, which again, I don't know who he could be, but just be mindful that, okay, this is fighter position. Maybe that will help. So you get through all this and then where did it break down to the point where you had to walk away? He break down December 6, I think was December, no, December 20, I don't remember, 19 or 22nd, something like that. I had a dinner with Hunter. After we being going through staff, he said no to this, no to that, you know, but I have a focus. I know that, okay, if I get three fights here, since they are willing to take the three fights, it's gonna make, you know, I don't wanna break this relationship like this. I don't want it to be a war. I can't stand. I can stand in this, but so we can get, trying to fix things up, but when we met again that day was the first time over all this time that we have to talk about the financial aspect. I mean, he has to propose a financial aspect. Right, so he proposed it at dinner. Yeah, he proposed at dinner. And then I just like, this guy is making fun of me. Make it fine? Yeah. So it was disrespectful? It was like not valuable enough for you? Not at all. And you're the champ at the time. Yeah, I mean, not at all. Like when you're talking about pay pay view, then you're negotiating pay pay view, and then you see number like 1.25 pay buys and stuff like that, and the pay pay view is going from 60 to $80 in the past five years, and you realize that the two, one, the two, there is 0.25 that is on top of it, is just out of the $20 that been added on. I'm like, come on, man. It's not my first pay pay view contract and... Just wasn't enough money. Wasn't even about the money, even how it was structured, even how it was structured, even how it was, I'm like, this doesn't make sense. I went home and I was so, I don't know, frustrated or disappointed. I don't know how I can describe, but one thing I know, I went online, I'm like, I'm missing Christmas with my family. I'm here training for a potential John Jones fight which might not happen. What for? Seems like we are not getting anywhere close. I book a flight that night to go to Cameroon, and I was in Cameroon in the Christmas, and then a couple of days after I received a text from Mick, Mick Mena, who was, you know, Mick usually sometimes just send me a friendly text to check on me, and then we talk a little bit, and then he talk about the contract. Like he heard that we didn't come to a term. I say yes. Say like, is it anything that I can do? I'm like, I don't think so. We didn't just have an agreement. And he said, how about I make it, we talk again. Let's get in the meeting with Hunter again and talk. And as I said, Mick always be nice, and I couldn't say no. I'm like, yes, let's try. In fact, I wish I could have worked, you know? Because to be honest, I never like really, before all this, I never imagined a life out of the U.S. I thought he would be like my fighting platform onto my retirement or something, but clearly things has changed along the way. So even when they came back a second time, it still was not enough. Yeah, because when they came back, and all this time that we've been talking, they've been talking about the, what is the term? Back pay. Yeah, we're gonna back pay you. From, because from all the fight that I've been refused, refusing to renegotiate the pay that they were proposing, they said they're gonna back pay me that. When they come out now and then make pay better, and I'm like, okay, the back pay and this and that, I'm like, no, no, everything is in this contract. This is it, this is it. And I'm like, okay. Well, then I don't know what to say if you say this is it, because you're, it's against your word. You say something and now you say this is it. I said I don't have the back pay, bro. So they proposed the back pay and then they took it away? Yeah, they've been proposing the back pay before. After the serious fight, they get, they invite us to a dinner and then keep remind me how they're gonna back pay me, everything, because I have a good proposal at the time, but I know that proposal and it was a good money, but I know it was just a bid to sign a contract. It was just to put the pen on the paper. It wasn't really like a good fit, like how they wanna make, give me a good contract. And they get to the point that they're like, no, everything is in this. I'm like, okay, I don't see it. And I was, we were kind of like silenced for copper second. What's that mean? I'm like, I don't know. Then we hang up. So at that point, do you start to talk to people like the PFL and NFC and no? No, at that point I stopped. I didn't do anything. When we stopped that conviction, I didn't do anything until I start to see all this thing on social media. And then I saw the dinner press conference, like, oh, we get rid of Francis. Yes, he's not getting any younger, he's injured. I'm like, yes, he's not getting any younger, but you were trying to have him. He's injured, but you were trying to have him. Now you didn't come to an agreement, you're batching him. That's when I started to respond because I never really like want this like to be something on me. And I was expecting like maybe they go out there and just say, oh, unfortunately, we didn't come to agreement and this and that. And thank you, good luck, right? And then we move away, but that's not how they do thing over there. So you decide to start talking to other people then. Yeah. And who do you talk to first? People started to reach out. I wasn't even the one talking to people. And at that time, I just wanna let this weight drop out of my shoulder. For some reason, I feel relief. I feel relief. There was so much pressure into that process. And I was in Cameroon, I'm like, man, you just live your life, you know, whatever is yours out there will come to you. Like, but I get the first person that reached out was Pete Mary from PFM. And then I was just like, yes, let's hear him out. And he came out, we speak. He asked like what I'm looking for on stuff. We speak and we're like, ah, looks good. Couple of days after he made a proposal, I look, I mean, I didn't even ask for not anything, but when he make a proposal, I look at the structure of that proposal. I'm like, this is good. Everything was being taken consideration. Obviously there's always gonna be a way to negotiate in a contract, but the way that the structure it, I was already happy. I'm like, I think this guy is trying to make me happy. Yeah, well, they need someone like you. PFL doesn't really have the big stars. Yeah, so, but we keep that contract. And at that time I'm like, let's wait. I'm not rushing to anything. Take some times and everything. And then- So you didn't sign that yet? No, I didn't sign. We also get to a chartry. Even chartry reach out, we talk same thing. And then in couple of days, they send their own contract. But when I was putting that contract next to the PFL one, it was day and night. The PFL was much better. Yeah. Okay. And the PFL put a clause in to allow you to box? Yeah, no, boxing was first for me, right? Would the PFL be involved in the boxing promotion? That was up to me. Okay. That was up to me. But they didn't really want to. It's not their expertise, but if they can help in some way or be involved in some way, again, it's up to me, right? So very independent contract. But I was more looking about boxing. That's the first time that I started to have dialogue about boxing and stuff. Trying to get- And I know there was some conversations with you fighting. There was Deontay Wilder. I think they talked about Dillian White. He was Deontay Wilder. We had a conversation with Deontay Wilder team, even with him. I personally was in the meeting with him, conference with him, that we were talking about a potential to fight him. So, and that was going well. And I think even to this day, we are kind of open about it. It's just along the way, he has the potential opportunity right away that they say, okay, we had like to push you the conversation about what we have here. And for us, it was understandable. We were like, okay, then let's explore, maybe after. And then right after that, I have my own, I started a conversation with the, for the FURIFIGHT. Because I get a call, I was driving to, yeah, I was driving to the airport and I get a call to meet in New York for some conversation about the FURIFIGHT. And then when I get in New York, next week, we scheduled, I don't next week I get in New York, we get to the room, I meet the people, it was the right people, we spoke, I heard them, I hear them out. And I'm like, I knew them, right? And I'm like, okay, this is legit. I think with these people, behind this fight is going to happen. That's where I now put them in contact with my team to negotiate because they wanted me to do everything, let's negotiate, let's, I'm like, I don't do negotiation. I listen, I talk about like how I would like thing to go, but I don't like to negotiate personally. Right, of course. I want these, I deserve these, I'm that. I'd rather have somebody do that on my behalf. Right, somebody do that on your behalf and you want to respond to a good deal. To a good deal. A good deal brought to you. Yeah, I want somebody, it's always good to have somebody in the mirror that would take the temper of both party because a deal can fall off just off because somebody's mad at this, and I'm like, his ego take over and the deal's off, right? But when there's somebody in between, and you always come to like, okay, it's not him. And it's to think about it. And that's what's happened because sometime with my team, there was frustrated and I'm like, oh no, this not working. And then they will come to you and then you will talk nice. You know, be a nice cop, have no problem. I'm like, no, but my team is saying this because they didn't mean to offend you, you know? I think, you know. Got it, frustrating, right? Yeah, no, not frustrating. I mean, yeah, but over the time you learn, you understand how it works and it's pretty easy. It's pretty easy. So you're in the driver's seat now because you've left the UFC. You have all these opportunities on the table, possibly Deontay Wilder, then it becomes Tyson Fury. So when do you know that that fight is actually going to take place? Because I know there was a long- June. June, that was in June. That was in June. We locked that fight. It was concluded. Everything was set. So for all those months from December to June, you're essentially just trying to find where you're going to land. Yeah, but before that, I have, I agree the deal with the PFR. I think it was in March, but I made the request. I say, let's just figure out what would be my next boxing fight before we sign the deal. So you haven't signed the deal with the PFR? I haven't signed the deal. Is it possible? Let me ask you this. Okay. Is it possible that you go and fight Tyson Fury and then the UFC comes back to you and says, Lewis, let's make this right and let's fight John Jones. Is that possible? It's possible, but no, it's possible. That's right. It's possible, but they have to go to the PFR now. Oh, because does the PFL have a contract signed? Yeah. You did sign the contract. I did sign. I say in March, it wasn't signed. I signed in May. Do you think the PFL would allow that? Oh, the PFL is down for that. Really? Yeah, it's down for that. Wow. The PFL is down for that. So the PFL would let you fight in the UFC. But what happens if you beat John Jones, you become the UFC heavyweight champion again? That's a problem. I don't know. I don't know. Maybe he will be a special fighter, a special bird or something. Maybe not like a UFC bird. I don't know. Yeah, the UFC will probably be down for that. Like you win the title and then go fight in the PFL. No, no, not the title. But to be honest, I don't worry about the title. The title is not what I worry about. I worry about that fight, that challenge. Yes. And I wouldn't care if it was a fight without a title. So in my, I don't need a UFC title. Especially with that fight. Like what difference does it make? Is John Jones in you? No, that fight is bigger than the title. Yes, bigger than the title. The fight is bigger than the title. No doubt. So deep inside me, I still have a little bit of hope, even though I know it's going to be hard, but you never know. Boy, that would be a big gamble for them. Because if you win, then you're the champ, but you're signed with the PFL. Yeah. Oh. Oh. Okay, so June, you get the Tyson Fury bout negotiated. Did you get everything you want? Was it easy? Again, you don't work in a room for a contract to get everything that you want. Right. At that moment, I was just so happy to get that fight happen because from that fight, a lot of things will be open. That fight will open a lot of doubt. You know, sometimes even in the negotiation, sometimes you have to see long-term, like what it comes with. Now I get this fight. I think it should have been the focus, right? After this fight, imagine hypothetically, I go out there, knock Tyson Fury out. What do you think will happen for me now? Where does that lift me? If you knock Tyson Fury out, you're the biggest combat sports star in the world. Okay. That's what I think. So is that everything that you will want? You want the cash. You got the cash. Then you will get everything. Yeah, that's what you get. Well, if you knock Tyson Fury out, the real money's in a rematch. Exactly. That's the real money. That's crazy money. That's what I'm- Are they giving you crazy money for the Tyson Fury fight? Are they giving you crazy money for the Tyson Fury fight? Yeah, they're giving me a good money. And very great condition. I like a lot of component, and again, I like a lot of component of this contract who was like the thing, the treatment that they were giving me, the access, how easy they make stuff for me. It's gonna be the first time that my family gonna attend to my fight, and I don't even have to think about that. They're gonna work on it. They're gonna figure out how to bring my mom, my sister, my brother out to Saudi to watch that fight. Oh, okay, so they're gonna take care of everything. They're gonna take care. And I think- The Saudis know how to throw that money around, boy. And I think that's something that for me was very, very important. I think I could have have more money, but it wouldn't make me more happier than stuff like that. And you kind of work with people that you feel like, okay, they are trying their best, their very best to make you feel comfortable, feel happy. I think that is also a partnership. It's not like one shot, okay, take everything that I can take and go. How can we build something? Is it like somebody that I don't trust? Can we build something for the future? And then when you feel like, yes, you invest into that relationship. Okay, so June, they negotiate the fight. Is it 12 rounds? 10 rounds. 10 rounds. 10 rounds, and they've created a new belt. And you're happy with the money. You're happy with the conditions. You're happy with everything. Then in June is when you go hardcore boxing training. When did you start hardcore boxing training? I was training boxing already. I was in a camp. But you were recovering from your knee surgery, first of all, right? Yes. So you can't kick and you can't wrestle. I can kick, I can wrestle. I mean, obviously, I have to be careful. How is the knee now? 100%? I don't have to worry about kick wrestling. Just knee. My knee is probably 90%. I mean, when you get a knee surgery. Did you get any stem cells or anything? Not yet. How long are you in town for? I had a PRP. I'm leaving tonight. You're leaving tonight? Yeah. There's a company in Austin, Ways To Well, that I wanted to hook you up with. Ways To Where? Yes, I get in contact with them. I get them to do my exam. And I think Eric Nixxic put me in contact with them. With Bergman? He sent me a contact. I can take care of that too. Yeah, we're pregnant. Yeah, I can take care of that too. About the same cell if we have the time. And I think I get it. You should do that. Yeah, I think I'm gonna give you the shirt. Yeah, for sure. You know. It'll help you. It definitely will. It's very important to take care of, to maintain the vehicle. Yes, obviously. Yeah. Yeah, and what a vehicle it is. Yeah. Basically when you're gonna put it in a big crash like this. So, yeah, right? Right? That's a good way to put it. Yeah, because Tyson Fury is a monster. He's a monster. I stand next to him, I'm like, damn, this guy is big. He's big. I'm like, you really need to go full force. Yeah, he's a big fellow. And he's very good. Very skillful. Oh man. You jump into the top of the heap, maybe ever. And then I was there at the press conference next to him. I'm like, yes, look, my fat belly. I'm a fat pig. I'm this. I'm like, don't you fool me. I have seen you. Yeah. He tricks people with that belly. I'm like, don't you fool me. Don't you trick me, Tyson. I have seen you box. And you doesn't box as if fat anything at all. No, he doesn't. No, he doesn't. He's an animal. Because if you just focus on his body, and then you'll be like, oh, I think, easy job. No, man. When the guys in the ring move in you, I'm like, OK, is it like something that they are remoting or something? I'm like, no, don't you fool me. I have seen you. Very, very skillful. Yeah. Very skillful. But you have probably the most sensational punching power I've ever seen in the heavyweight division in the UFC. It's you and Derek Lewis. You're the two biggest knockout artists ever. Maybe. But again, I think in the heavyweight division, everybody can knock everybody out. The problem is to connect. That's the most problem. When you worked, everybody hit somebody in the shin. It's going down. How to connect the delivery system. It's something that I heard once from Teddy Atlas. And it's taken my mind, like the delivery system. You can have the biggest missile. But if you can hit your target, it's useless. So when do you get involved with Mike Tyson? When did that start happening? In training or? Because I've seen videos of you training with Tyson. How much have you trained with him? Not too much. He comes from time to time. Not always. He's not always with me. But if you look like four years ago, exactly four years ago, and that's when Tyson and I, we started hit each other on social media. And four years ago was the first time that I met Mike Tyson. I was on his podcast, the Hot Boxing. And one request that I initiated at that time was like, whenever I fight Tyson Fury, would you be in my corner? And he said, yes. That's even on my Instagram. It's still on my Instagram. The next day, I put that as a caption. I asked him if he can be in my corner whenever I fight Tyson Fury. And nobody believed that this could have happened. OK, cool. Then what? And when I get the fight, I'm like, bro, that thing is happening. That thing is manifesting itself. And so Tyson agrees to be in your corner. And who are you training with mostly for boxing? I'm training with Dewey. I also get Dewey Cooper. Yeah. I also get this guy from France named John Bumba that I used to work with him, trained my boxing with him. He's a young, very young guy. But I like his style, the way that he's approached and stuff. And I really have a good connection with him. So what's happened? I reached out. I mean, even before the fight, I was working with him, taking him in Cameroon, get some training already. And then when the fight get announced, I talk with him. Then I brought him out. So he's in Vegas with me. And so you started your journey in martial arts. You initially wanted to be a boxer. Yes. And then when you went to an MMA gym, they convinced you. When I went to France, he was even in a boxing gym that they convinced me to be an MMA fighter. A guy from a boxing gym named Didier Camon, the first boxing gym that I get into. But he was also a martial artist himself. And he said, bro, I think you have a very good potential. I think your best outcome now regarding your situation, because I was still homeless at the time, I think your best outcome would be MMA. If you, that's, I'm like, what's MMA? He started to explain to me, like, you know, I'm like, ah, OK, that sport that they do in the cage, say yes. I'm like, ah, I have seen it. He said, if you train some takedown defense and juju su, what is juju su? Started to explain. I think you're going to be a UFC champion one day. What is UFC? And how old were you when this was happening? 27. That was in 2013. It's so crazy that you see. June 2013. People don't understand that you started this journey as an MMA fighter so late in your life compared to most. Like, a lot of these guys, they're training when they're 14, 15 years old, they're in MMA gyms, and have an amateur fight. Yeah. And I forced my way into an MMA. And that's why there was a lot of things that I didn't understand properly. I didn't learn as an athlete growing up. And until I get to a stippy fight, the first stippy fight. Man, that stippy fight taught me a lot about top-by-spot. After that fight, I was at the press conference and telling people, like, I think I have learned more in this fight. Because here have been, what, almost just four years? Four years and a half since I've been doing, but not even four years and a half since I've been doing MMA when I forced the stippy fight. Crazy. Yeah. And I said, I learned this night. Tonight, I learned more than I have learned in the past four years in this game. And I think people didn't understand, but I meant it. Well, you certainly showed it in the rematch. You certainly showed it in the rematch. And Daniel Cormier pointed it out. He said, patient, Francis. You are patient in the second fight. You didn't just rush out and try to take him out in the first round. Much more dangerous. Yeah, because all my previous fight before stippy, I wasn't rushing on anybody. What about Rosenstryke? You kind of rushed him. That was after. Yeah. I mean, before the first fight. I wasn't rushing on anybody. I was knocking people out without rushing. The mistake, the thing that I did is I get to the point that I really started to think about the knockout, which is something that I never thought about it. It just happened. Right. Then I started to think about it. So that's why I was trying to make it happen. I tried to make it happen. And obviously, at that time, there was a lot of pressure on me and everything. So I was sure I have to give a result. So that's why I was rushing. So I understand that. I went back and watched that fight. And I saw me fight. I'm like, who is that guy? He just looked like me. But I don't recognize why he's rushing, why he's doing this. So then I understand. I'm like, OK. Maybe you just have to go back to your previous, the previous way, the previous you, and then thing will be fine. Then I went back to my previous. In the rematch, not only were you the previous you, but you were a way better version of you. You were very calculated, very technical. It was four years, what, three years after? So of course, I have learned. I'm in the sport to learn. I know that I have a deficiency. So I pay a lot of attention than those people that grew up as athletes doing different sport. I always take that very seriously, the fact that, I mean, maybe sometime my power hurt me to get away with stuff. But I know that I have a deficiency, as far as experience and everything, even techniques. Because sometimes I hear people say, oh, yeah, he didn't train wrestling in the training camp. I'm like, bro, come on. You think two, three month training, wrestling in the training camp, who outwrested somebody that been wrestling his entire life? No, you can't. You can't just find a way to go around. But you know, so that's how I process things. I think about the advantage. I always think I serve as an underdog. So what did you change in your training after the first D-Bay fight? Did you change anything? First of all, I understand how to train properly. I understand how to train properly. And again, I just think about everything as a deficiency. I used to think that sometimes I'm like, oh, yes, he has a good striking. He's a boxer. He knock people out. I'm like, no, I have no good striking. Everything has to involve. Whether it's my striking, my wrestling, my jujitsu. That's why people keep training. The day that you think like, oh, I'm good at this, that's the day that you start to go down. Because you can stay in the same place like this. You're going to permanently try to go up. And even if you are not going up, that's how you can maintain your position. But if you stay comfortable with something, that's the day that you start to lose it. So I changed everything. I focus on everything, like all the assets. That fight really helped me a lot. I think about my diet. I think about the discipline stuff. I mean, usually I'm good with discipline. But I still think about everything, put everything in prospect. OK, is my diet OK? By the way, after the steeper fight, I decided to cut soda out for a couple of while before. And since then, I never drink soda. You were drinking a lot before? Oh, a ton. A ton. Even in training camp? A ton. In training camp, I was eating croissant, everything. I was like, no, I'm heavy weight. I was just focusing about my weight and not about my condition and all those aspects. I didn't know. You know the night before the steeper fight, I was in the folk of the shower eating all those things? That's good. Really? Yeah, that's good for you. Before the fight? Meat. Oh, no. It's not good at all. Not good? Not at all. I was heavy as shit. Oh, you ate too much. Did you eat stuff with the meat? Like potatoes and rice and? Of course. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. That's where it is. The night before the, like maybe two hours or maybe one hour before I worked in the arena. How was that folk of the shower? An hour before you went to the arena? Yeah. Wow. No, in the arena. Because I went to the arena like maybe two hours before the fight. But three hours is not enough to digest all those meat and stuff. And so in that fight, you learn all the lessons. And then you change your diet, you enhance your discipline, and you keep working on all your skills. Then you know how we were talking about patience. That's how I walked into the steepee fight, the direct Lewis fight. With like constantly telling myself be patient. And I was there just like telling myself, I think, I wasn't even in that fight. I was there, but I was still fighting steepee. I was like, no, be patient. Be patient. Be patient. You were still thinking about getting tired in that first fight, getting taken down, getting in control. No, really. I was just thinking about like patience. Patience. Just patience. But I overdo. We overdo. You know? We did it. We did it. And it was too much. That's how it turned out. But I was like, patient, you get this. You get this. That's why at the end of the fight, I'm like, is it over? Or was there? I was confused. I didn't know that he was even the third round. Really? Oh, yeah. I was really messed up mentally. I didn't know. I told him I still have a round. So what was that feeling like? And my corner was telling me. I mean, they were telling me everything is good. OK, I think you get one round. The second round, maybe you get this. I don't know. So I feel like everything was right. So my mind was playing me really bad in that fight. So what was it like when you went back and watched that fight? I didn't watch. You didn't watch it? Yeah, I feel bad. I feel like I waste a bullet. An important bullet. Yeah. And then. That sets you back. Yeah. I feel very bad. And then the reaction about it, the way people react about it, you get to the point that I kind of like tell myself, OK, screw this. Fuck everything, man. You know, the reason why I get into combat sport, basically, MMA, was because it was fun. I was never going to do MMA. I just kept training, like, oh, it's fun. I like it. Let's keep going. Then I realized that that fun wasn't there anymore. And that's why I was falling down. Because I started focusing on about what people think, people reaction, people feelings. And then I forget the reason why I started the sport. So now I get the second fight again, Curtis played in China. I'm like, OK, this might be the end. I don't think if I lost this fight, it's going to be good for me. But at least I earned it how I started just by phone. Just go there. Enjoy yourself. Have fun. And don't worry about what's next. And then 45 seconds, the guy was down. And then Ken Velasquez, 25 seconds, the guy was down. I was just there to have fun. Junior dos Santos, the guy was down. I'm like, seems like having fun. Van Groove again. Yeah, like, having fun is exactly why I'm doing this. And it's why I'm good at it. Let's just do it, you know? So I try not to put pressure on me. On me, every fight, I'm like, I'm going to go there, do my best, make sure that everything that should have been done is done on my end. And the rest, I don't control it. Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist? Man, I don't believe in that. I try. No? No, I don't believe. I think everything is in our mind. You can go out there trying to find all those stuff, but you have it in your mind. You can speak to yourself. You can question to yourself. I mean, I don't need a sports psychology to tell me why I'm doing this. It's out of passion. I do this because I love it. It's not a job, you understand? I question myself, like, why did I get here? How come did I came from where I came from and get here? Then I find all those reasons. And then therefore, I put my stuff together. Maybe some people do. Some people clearly need people to help them to control their self. I see that in a lot of fighters, basically. They need a coach or somebody to tell them what to do. Like, they don't know. Like, to tell them what time to train. You know you have a fight. You schedule your training at this time. You have this and this to work on. You can schedule that and get there every day at the same time. Do your thing. Go home. Get ready for another day. But some people do need somebody to get them that. So do you schedule all your training? Yeah. Everything. Schedule everything. Really? Yeah. And my team, I organize all my team, mostly about people that I feel the good energy about. Because again, I don't believe in so many things. I don't believe in like, oh, this guy is the great. He's a great trainer. He can do this now. I believe that everything comes from a fighter and the energy that people around him can bring, can help him win. So when I, in my team, I favor people energy. People like how the energy that it brings around, I favor them. And that's how I judge if somebody is best or not. It's by his energy. And that's how I get along with pretty much everybody of my team. I judge everybody based on this energy. If I feel like this is, I'd rather have a good person next to me. And then not to say my team is great. They are all great. Everybody's very professional, commit. But if I feel like somebody has this energy and not even great as great, I prefer that person than somebody that is a great trainer and don't bring that energy. Because the energy is very important. You know, when you start to get tired, when you're in the tough situation, the voice that you can listen and to trust is more important than the technique that you can learn. You can't know all the techniques in the world. And if you get there, your mind is not right. You are not doing shit. Mm, yeah. Yeah. So the energy of the people, you got, that's all down. You got a great trainer, Dewey Cooper. He's fantastic. I still get Dewey Cooper, even Eric. Eric Nixxic. Eric Nixxic. Amazing. We're still in here. Because I remember even how we get together, he wasn't most like a coach. I was in a fighting junior, Dos Santos. And I have only Dewey Cooper or with Markel on my team. And I reached out. I asked Markel, like, we should bring somebody in the corner or something. And he talk about Eric. And I'm like, I always meet Eric around. And he's nice. And I'm like, yes, let's try him. And then we get to the locker. Suddenly, I feel the energy was great. I'm like, man, this is good. I like this vibe in my team. That's for me, is enough. That's why sometimes I understand. Once I saw Mike Perry, he went to a fight with Ollie, his wife, in his corner. And then people was criticizing him. I'm like, I understand him. He's doing the right thing. He understand how the games work. He just want a voice that can speak to him when he's tired, somebody that he trusts, and all those stuff, and everything. He already knows how to fight. Yeah. He knows how to fight. Because nobody is going to raise your hand and pinch on somebody's hand. Or like, nobody is going to dodge a pinch for you. Nobody is going to say, oh, knock him out now. You know? It's just fighting game is mental, more mental and improvisation. So you schedule everything. You schedule your strength and conditioning. You schedule your sparring. You schedule everything. You just do it all based on how you feel and what you need to get done. No, like I schedule. I mean, I get a strength and conditioning. For example, for this game, I get the trip out. It's out here with me. So we talk about the goal. What is the goal? What is the deficiency? What do we want? Where do we want to get by the fight? We are 12 weeks out. OK, this is what we want to work on. And what would be the good space? Then we get that schedule. Then with the boxing team, we stick around. But I always try to get my team together. So sometimes they can just work together. They don't always need to come to me on staff. My team can communicate together also on my schedule. So when you train and you do strength and conditioning, are you using a heart rate monitor? Are you paying attention to your resting heart rate? What it's like when you wake up? Your heart rate variability? Do you get involved in any of those things? Sometimes, not always. Sometimes I even do the test to see where I am at. VO2 max. Yeah. Even the view to max. But we focus on, I think, the most important thing for me right now, my endurance. It's all about my endurance. Do you have other injuries other than your knee? Injury, no. I mean, you get sore. If you get to a training camp to the end without pain somewhere, then you better worry. You probably didn't do enough. Yeah, you probably didn't do it right. So that's the thing. That's the reality of the sport. That's the reality of the sport. You can train hard for three months and feel great every day and don't feel like something's wrong. No, that's mean. You're not doing something right. Is it easier to train for boxing because you don't have to do the wrestling? You don't have to do the kicking? Is it less likely that you get injured? Sometime you think so. But when you get there, it's different. In the first two weeks, it wasn't even a training camp. It was a pre-camp. My first two weeks in boxing, straight boxing, I felt different. Of course, you get excited because, oh, you're not going to kick or take down or this. It's just boxing. Oh, you don't risk injury for your knee and that because now I always think about my knee. Then you get there, you start to hit meat, hit parts, do all those stuff, always your hands up, and then your shoulders start to hurt. Then you throw more punch in two weeks than you have ever thrown in the training camp, in the two-month, two-three-month training camp. Then I'm like, ah, there is a difference. Your shoulders feel different. It's not the same thing. In MMA, you throw one, two, kick, one, two, three, kick, one, take down, daily boxing, wrestling, cage wrestling, all those stuff. Now in boxing, your hands has to go all the time. And when he's not going, he has to be on your face, protecting your face. Otherwise, you're going to eat that punch clearly. Yeah. So when you prepare for a fight like this, you've never had a big professional boxing fight before, and this is the biggest of all time. You're literally fighting the greatest heavyweight of all time. How do you know when to peak? How do you know when you're ready? Because you haven't done this kind of training before? You will never be ready. Even at the fight night, you will always think, oh, if I have this, maybe I should have done this. Instead, maybe this would have hurt me. When is the go time you have to go? So you just have to make sure to get there in your best. The best you can do. The best you can do without burnout, because there's also a balance in between. Because if you overdo, then you burn out by the time you get to a fight. That's why I was asking about heart rate monitors and checking your resting heart rate and heart rate variability, because one of the best ways to find out if you are overtrained is to check your resting heart rate when you wake up first thing in the morning. And if it's up eight beats a minute, 10 beats a minute, most likely you went too hard. And then they'd suggest an active recovery day, a lighter training day, where you're still moving, you're still working on technique, but you're not pushing. You're not really pushing. And even when your heart rate monitor indicate that, I used to use the Aura watch. And when it almost indicate how you feel. You feel it. They say, and then when you have a good team, they can also measure the mass of your training. And they can also work around it. They know, OK, Monday and Tuesday we went hard on this. Wednesday has to be slow. And this maybe work on technique, or on the strain, on this and that, all those aspects. And that's why a team is very good about, because you can, by yourself, think about everything. No, you need other people. You need other people to help you, because things get so big, you need other people to help you. And everybody is kind of like he has his own department to worry about. And so when you're training, how much sparring are you doing? How many days a week? Three or two, sometimes. It depends, again, how you feel and how the recovery been, how was the sparring. Sometimes you get sparring and you feel like, yeah, even though you did the amount of round that you're supposed to do, but it wasn't that intense. And then the next day, no, maybe you keep, you push again. And sometimes you just go to sparring. That one is hard. The guy gives you a hard time. You push, the pace is high. And then next day, maybe you need to recovery. Not like recovery, but slow it down, give your shoulder some rest, because you'll always end up on maybe heavy backs. It's all about that balance. But it's like two, three a week. And are you sparring with any world class heavyweights? Um, world class, so far, no. The only guy that I used to spar with, which is a world class heavyweight, it's Carlos Dacam. And he's now just coming in the training camp, because he's also going to fight on the cart, which is a world class. And we're going to get the deal we were talking about, some guy that we were bringing, like experienced fighters, boxer to spar. What is it like for you to spar boxers and not be able to kick, not be able to take them down? Does it create any adjustment for you? I wasn't an expert of kicking either way. So. But you kick hard. Again, I wasn't an expert of kicking. You might not be an expert. And I wasn't an expert of taking down. Right. But you did defend your heavyweight title. A lot of it with wrestling because of your knee. Yeah, because I couldn't do it. That was the only option that I had. I couldn't. I wasn't comfortable moving. I was paranoid. We should tell people, you went into that fight to defend your heavyweight title with torn knee ligaments. Yeah. Your knee was fucked up going into that fight. It's yeah, MCL. That's crazy. Miniscus. And you're fighting Cyril Ghan, who's the most agile, light-footed heavyweight. He moves everywhere. I'm like, OK, I need to figure a way. Nobody moves like that guy. Yeah. But one thing that helped me into that fight a lot, I believe in myself. I know that I'm going to get him. I wasn't looking for knockout. Once again, I wasn't looking for knockout. But I know that I'm going to have my opportunity at some moment in the fight. That's where the first two rounds, I was literally worried about how to move, and this and that. Oh, my knee. Oh, this. But I was too confident. And after the first two rounds, I'm like, man, I'm losing. You can't end like this. No, not like this. We need to do something. Switch it up. To switch it up, man. Like, yeah. Was that a satisfying victory for you, though, knowing that you could beat one of the best heavyweights in the world with only one leg? He was satisfying, yes, by far the best. Because there was, I was, he was in one fight at that night. That night, I was fighting like four opponent. I was fighting my demons, my knee, this, everything. The contract. I was fighting the contract. I was fighting the narrative. I was fighting everything that come.