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Regardless of what happens in the ring on Friday night in Saudi Arabia, Francis Ngannou says that his ambitions in boxing will remain undaunted. 

The former UFC heavyweight champion continues this week what is likely the most unprecedentedly difficult apprenticeship to boxing in history when he takes on former two-time world champion Anthony Joshua just months after his debut; a razor-thin split decision loss to reigning WBC champ Tyson Fury in October.

Ngannou’s success in a second (and undeniably more lucrative) combat sport has led to several questions as to when — or even if — ‘The Predator’ will return to mixed martial arts, after signing a what was called at the time a “strategic partnership” with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) last year, especially if he is successful against Joshua in Riyadh later this week.

But speaking ahead of the blockbuster showdown, Ngannou said that he will definitely fight in MMA again — even if he isn’t quite so certain as to when that might be.

“I will definitely still do some MMA fights, but I’m not leaving boxing,” Ngannou said on Monday in Saudi Arabia, per MMA Fighting.

“Remember, at the beginning, it was boxing,” the Cameroonian added. “I wasn’t aware of MMA. And for more than a decade, it was all about boxing, dreaming about boxing. And then even when the opportunity came around [in MMA], it was, for me, an opportunity to shine, to be a world champion, and then potentially switch to do the crossover and go back to boxing, because I feel like it was something that I needed, I had to fulfil in order to be at peace with myself.

“In order to retire peacefully, I needed to do that boxing because I just love it. I can’t tell you why, but I love it and I enjoy it.”

According to reports, the PFL are targeting either August or December for Ngannou’s MMA debut with the promotion, which has been confirmed as coming against Brazilian heavyweight Renan Ferreira, who was successful against Ryan Bader in the recent PFL vs. Bellator cross promotional bout.

But before that, Ngannou has a stern test facing him in Joshua late on Friday night, a fight he vows he can win even if there is a definitive experience difference between the two combatants.

“I’m not a fool. I know that I’m not at the same technique level as those guys,” Ngannou said. “I’m not saying you’re calling me a fool, I’m just pointing it out — I know the situation. All of them, they’ve been doing this sport for over 20 years at a high-level, full-time, and I’m just getting in, although I was passionate about it my entire life.

“But I know that I’m not going out there to show something extravagant that I know, that I’ve been practicing. Stick on the fundamentals.”