Francis Ngannou hopeful of 2024 fighting return after tragic death of son: ‘This next one’s for Kobe’

Francis Ngannou plans 2024 return to fighting after death of son this next one's for Kobe

Francis Ngannou has returned to training following the death of his 15-month-old son Kobe in April.

Ngannou has since returned to Las Vegas after being back home in Cameroon for the funeral and to be with family. His head coach, Eric Nicsick says he’s happy that Ngannou is back in the gym at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.

“He’s healing,” Nicksick said of Francis Ngannou on The MMA Hour. “That’s the best I can say. He’s healing. You’re seeing the smile back on his face. You’re seeing the banter. He’s back in the gym talking trash to [Sean] Strickland and everybody around the room. That’s the most important thing. But all the while, you know there’s a lot of healing going on inside. Every once in a while he’ll have that moment where a vulnerability [shows itself].”

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Although Francis Ngannou does not have his next fight booked, Eric Nicksick is just happy that the former UFC heavyweight champion is back training. But, as the two were chatting, Ngannou said his next fight is for his son, Kobe which was an emotional message.

“He looked at me at dinner last week and was like, ‘This next one’s for Kobe.’ That shit hit me,” Nicksick said referencing Ngannou’s son. “I was like, f*ck, whoever you’re fighting next, God bless them. If this is what we’re fighting for, this man is going to be dialed in.

“It was just nice to have him home. It was nice to give him a hug, and not even really have to say much, and just be there next to him and let him talk and let him vent. We cried, we hugged, we laughed, and those are the moments you have when you have a brother like him. Happy to have him home,” Nicksick added.

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Francis Ngannou shares heartbreaking statement after tragic death of son Kobe please help me
Mandatory Credit: Richard Petham

Coach Isn’t Sure What’s Next For Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou is coming off a KO loss to Anthony Joshua in his second boxing fight.

Following the fight, the expectation is Ngannou will return to MMA and make his PFL debut. But, Nicksick isn’t sure when that will happen, but is hopeful it will be this year.

“I really don’t know, to be honest with you,” Nicksick said about the timeline for Ngannou’s next fight. “I hope so [in 2024]. I hope so, because I think keeping him busy has been the best thing for him. It’s helped him a lot.

240430 Francis Ngannou ch 1422 b1f886

“But again, no parent should ever have to go through what he went through. Only time will tell, and time will heal. I hope that just because I want to see him compete again with this on him, I want him to be able to find a purpose in competing again. But whatever he decides to do, I’m going to have his back 110 percent,” Nicksick added.

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Francis Ngannou issues tribute to late son Kobe after tragic funeral he came like a king and he left as a king
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports

Ngannou is 17-3 as a pro in MMA and last competed in January of 2022 when he beat Ciryl Gane by decision.