Francis Ngannou has not shied away from his desire to enter the boxing ring despite going completely off script in his latest performance in the octagon.

The reigning UFC heavyweight champion doubled down on his pre-fight promise of one day making the transition from MMA to boxing, claiming as much immediately following his latest title defense. Ngannou outpointed former teammate Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision Saturday evening atop UFC 270 from a sold-out Honda Center in Anaheim. The 6’4”, 250-pound French Cameroonian is generally known as the most powerful puncher in UFC but relied heavily on grappling to beat Gane by scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.

Talks resurfaced of his pre-fight desire to face boxing’s two-time and reigning lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22KOs), a fight Ngannou admittedly wants even more than any other option in UFC.

“That option, boxing is always in the back of my pocket,” Ngannou told UFC’s Joe Rogan after making the first successful defense of the UFC heavyweight championship, coming in his first-ever decision win. “It’s something I must do before the end of my career.”

Ngannou (17-3, 16 knockouts/submissions in MMA) took up boxing as his first combat sports discipline at age 22 as a transition from street fighting. His love for the sport and desire to change his way of life led to a 14-month journey from Cameroon to France, interrupted by a two-month stint in a detention center in Spain due to crossing the border illegally following his sea voyage from Morocco.

Upon being freed, Ngannou settled in France, overcoming homelessness while seeking out a place to train for his planned boxing career. A chance encounter with MMA coach Fernand Lopez prompted a career switch. The past nine years have been spent as a mixed martial artist, though—at age 35—eager to return to his first true love before entering the twilight of his combat sports career.

“Right now, I’m really looking toward any opportunity to get that because, it’s not like I have a lifetime here,” admits Ngannou. “So, yeah, I better start thinking about it.”

A fight with England’s Fury is a longshot to happen next—or at all—as boxing’s unbeaten heavyweight king is currently in talks for a mandatory WBC title defense versus countryman and interim titlist Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19KOs). The matter is due to be settled for a rescheduled purse bid hearing on January 26, though with several contingency plans discussed. Any such plans for a Fury-Ngannou fight, however, have largely come from Ngannou’s side.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox