UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou will have to undergo knee surgery before he is able to train or compete again, his manager, Marquel Martin, revealed on Wednesday.
Ngannou (17-3) unified the UFC heavyweight championship by defeating Ciryl Gane (10-1) by unanimous decision at UFC 270 last weekend in Anaheim, California. Immediately after, Ngannou revealed he went into the five-round bout with an injured knee. He suffered a torn MCL and damaged ACL during sparring sessions in the build-up to the fight.
Ngannou, 35, underwent medical evaluation in Los Angeles on Monday. According to Martin, Ngannou plans to return to his native Cameroon soon and he and his team did not want the surgery to interfere with those plans. He will undergo a procedure to repair the ACL when he returns to the U.S., with an estimated recovery timeframe of nine months, Martin said.
Per Okamoto, Ngannou has completed eight fights as part of his initial eight-part contract. Though he would have been a free agent if he lost on Saturday, the win triggers a “champion’s clause” that keeps him under contract for either three fights or one year.
The No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC rankings said he would hold out if necessary, but the knee injury could prevent him from competing over this time frame anyway.
The surgery also pushes back some potentially exciting bouts for Ngannou going forward.
The fighter teased a boxing match against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury if allowed by UFC:
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) January 23, 2022