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Francis Ngannou celebrates victory over France’s Ciryl Gane. Photo: AFP

Francis Ngannou in ‘serious’ ONE Championship talks, as Anatoly Malykhin eyes ‘dream fight’ with former UFC king

  • Former UFC heavyweight champ claims he is in negotiations with ONE and PFL after becoming a free agent in January
  • ONE officials decline to comment on pursuit of Cameroonian-Frenchman, but Russia’s Malykhin would be glad to welcome him to the Circle

Anatoly Malykhin would be more than happy to welcome Francis Ngannou to ONE Championship.

Speaking to ESPN this week, Ngannou claimed that he has been negotiating with both Singapore’s ONE and American promotion PFL since he split with the UFC in January.

“I have been having some serious conversations with PFL,” the former UFC heavyweight champion said. “Also with ONE.”


The former UFC heavyweight champ’s comments drove MMA fans into a frenzy of excitement, but arguably nobody was more excited than Malykhin, ONE’s interim heavyweight champion.

“Anatoly’s dream is to fight him,” the Russian’s wife and manager Anita Malykhina told the Post.

ONE officials declined to comment on the promotion’s purported interest in Ngannou.

Francis Ngannou of Cameroon punches Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship. Photo: Zuffa LLC

Ngannou (17-3), considered the most destructive puncher in MMA today, claimed the UFC heavyweight title with a devastating knockout of heavyweight legend Stipe Miocic in 2021.

The 36-year-old then defended the title with a decision defeat of Ciryl Gane in January, 2022, only to spend the remainder of the year locked in a heated contract dispute with the Las-Vegas based promotion.

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His contract expired at the end of the year, and in January, UFC president Dana White confirmed that the hulking knockout artist had vacated the heavyweight throne and entered into free agency.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has since claimed the vacant title with a quick submission of Gane.

Anatoly Malykhin punches Reinier de Ridder at ONE on Prime Video 5 in Manila.

Malykhin (12-0) could use some good news.

The 35-year-old Russian was set to take on undisputed heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar at ONE Fight Night 8 on March 25 in Singapore, but on Tuesday learned that the fight had been delayed because of a “a shift in broadcaster commitment,” per officials.

Malykhina says her husband and client is “very upset” about the bout’s postponement – understandable considering it is the second time it has happened.

Anatoly Malykhin celebrates after knocking out Reinier de Ridder.

The pair were originally set to fight in September, but Bhullar was forced out of the contest with an injury.

Malykhin last fought in December, when knocked out Reinier de Ridder to claim ONE’s light heavyweight title.

In his next most recent fight, he battered Kirill Grishenko to claim the interim heavyweight belt.