Francis Ngannou was impressed by Jake Paul 's brutal knockout of Tyron Woodley last weekend.
Paul picked up his fifth win as a professional when he stopped Woodley, landing a devastating right hand to floor the ex-UFC champion in the sixth round.
It marked the 24-year-old's third win of the calendar year, having outpointed Woodley in August and knocked out now-retired UFC welterweight Ben Askren.
'The Problem Child' called for fights with Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal after his win, urging UFC boss White to allow them to compete in the ring.
And the current UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou admitted he didn't expect Paul to beat Woodley again.
“Honestly, I was impressed by Jake Paul, I didn’t see that coming,” Ngannou told TMZ.
"I was sure that Tyron Woodley was going to win this fight, you know? But you’ve got to give it to Jake Paul. He made a statement, a huge statement and he proved his money is where his mouth is.
"He’s taking himself very seriously. … You better take him seriously because he proved it.”
Ngannou is preparing to defend his title for the first time against interim champion Cyril Gane at UFC 270 on January 22.
The Cameroonian won the belt in April, avenging his loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 with a brutal one-punch knockout.
He is currently caught up in contractual issues with the UFC as his fight with Gane next month marks the last on his UFC contract.
UFC boss Dana White has opened the door for Ngannou – who has previously criticised UFC fighter pay – to leave the promotion after his contract expires.
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The knockout artist has targeted a move to boxing in the future, even calling out top heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for a fight.
""My main dream has always been the noble art and even though I deviated into MMA, which I love, I still have to fulfil something in boxing," he told ESPN.
But despite being keen on switching his 4oz gloves for 12oz gloves, Ngannou wouldn't be interested in fighting Paul.
“No, that’s not the same thing. It’s not the same generation. Even if I go out there for boxing, it’s not to box Jake Paul," he continued.
"As good as he might be, he’s not my level. He’s not my weight class, first of all. I might have 80-100 pounds over him. It’s not the same thing. He doesn’t want this smoke.”
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