Junior dos Santos wants Francis Ngannou to beat Anthony Joshua, but sees Renan Ferreira as ‘more skilled’ in MMA

Francis Ngannou’s next move goes down Friday in a boxing showdown with Anthony Joshua just months after a shocking split decision loss to Tyson Fury, and a former UFC rival is cheering Ngannou on — for now.

Junior dos Santos, an ex-UFC heavyweight champion who lost to Ngannou in 2019, said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast that he’s hoping the Cameroonian powerhouse scores the full upset this time around even though he sees Joshua as the favorite to win.

“I believe in Ngannou’s knockout power and energy, his willpower to win,” dos Santos said. “I like his style very much, the way he makes things happen. I think it’s going to be really hard, Joshua is extremely talented and well-adapted to boxing. He saw what Francis Ngannou was able to do to Tyson Fury so he won’t underestimate him, which could diminish Francis Ngannou’s chances, but I’m Team Ngannou. I hope Ngannou can score a good victory or even a knockout against Joshua.”

Ngannou won 17 of his 20 professional MMA contest, with 15 stoppages to his credit. He holds a 0-1 record in boxing, but was able to knock Fury down during their match.

“Cigano,” who has briefly trained with Joshua in the past, warns the former boxing champ to prepare for something surreal on Friday.

“Something that tends to surprise people is Ngannou’s knockout power, and his overall power,” dos Santos said. “People have no idea about that guy’s power. They only realize it when the fight is already happening. That could be a positive factor in Ngannou’s favor, but Joshua obviously is the favorite. But I’m Team Ngannou here.”

Dos Santos recently captured the Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA heavyweight title with a knockout of Alan Belcher. He’s now gone 2-0 in bare-knuckle MMA matches since parting ways with the UFC. Dos Santos is happy to call Gamebred home, but still hopes to land a deal to box in the future.

“Cigano” also won’t be surprised if Ngannou never returns to MMA after facing Joshua and possibly rematching Fury down the line, even after PFL announced the intention to book him vs. Renan Ferreira next. Ferreira is the 2023 PFL heavyweight champion and stopped Bellator titleholder Ryan Bader in mere seconds this past February.

“It might be harder for him [to fight MMA again] if he wins because boxing is more [lucrative], and training for it is simpler,” dos Santos said. “Not that it’s easy, I’m not saying that, but you only train boxing, whereas in MMA you have to very everything every single day. It would be more comfortable to me to do just boxing, and I try to see the same way for Francis Ngannou. Let’s see how it goes, but I think it would be harder to bring him back to MMA if he wins.”

“But we have Renan ‘Problema’ in MMA, who just became the unified champion in PFL and Bellator,” he continued. “He’s making some noise, and it’s only the start for him. He’s very talented and hungry, extremely skilled. This fight with Francis Ngannou would get the attention of the entire world. ‘Problema’ is huge, his reach is as long as Francis Ngannou’s. Maybe he doesn’t have Francis Ngannou’s knockout power, but Francis Ngannou doesn’t move as fast as Renan. He’s a big heavyweight that moves like a middleweight, and I think that would make the different [against Ngannou].

“He’s the Brazilian version [of Ngannou], but more skilled than Francis Ngannou. The difference is Francis Ngannou’s knockout power, it’s absurd. But speaking of skills, fighting skills, just look at Renan and you’ll see how comfortable he is with his weight and size. He’ll make some noise.”