UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou says his failure to accept a low-ball contract is at the heart of his issues with the UFC. Ngannou will defend his heavyweight title for the first time against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 on January 22. The 35-year-old captured the strap against Stipe Miocic in March, announcing his reign […]
UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou says his failure to accept a low-ball contract is at the heart of his issues with the UFC.
Ngannou will defend his heavyweight title for the first time against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 on January 22. The 35-year-old captured the strap against Stipe Miocic in March, announcing his reign as the new Baddest Man on the Planet with a spectacular KO.
His time as champion, however, has been marred by the UFC’s behind-the-scenes machinations and, in Ngannou’s view, betrayals. Not only was an interim title fight arranged less than five months into his reign, Francis believes his employer did its utmost to “discredit him” in the lead up to that fight.
Ngannou’s gripes with the UFC stretch back years. From Dana White saying that his “ego is so out of control,” to being perennially overlooked for a title shot prior to becoming champ, it’s hard to deny that Francis has been underappreciated by the UFC. This, despite re-energizing the heavyweight division by spectacularly knocking out almost every man placed before him.
Ngannou Says He’s Had To “Borrow Money To Live” Under Current UFC Contract
Now, “Le Predator” is the latest of a long line of UFC fighters to publicly criticize the promotion for its less than generous remuneration practices.
Unsatisfied with his contract, Ngannou has for some time refused to sign an extension. He currently has one fight left on his deal, but as champion, will remain under contract as long as the UFC continues to offer him fights, precluding his ability to test the market as a free agent.
Speaking to The MMA Hour this week, Francis said that his failure to extend his contract is the root cause of his issues with the UFC.
“I did not sign a new deal,” said Ngannou (h/t MMA FIGHTING). “First of all, there is a champ clause and they’ve been trying to apply pressure with an extension, but I did not sign a new deal and I think that’s basically the issue. That’s what is causing all these issues because I don’t want to sign a new deal on certain terms.”
Francis is standing firm at the negotiating table, holding out for a better deal. And it’s understandable, given that under his current contract, he’s been forced into debt.
“That doesn’t work for me, because I don’t feel protected in those terms — in the past two years I fought twice and I have to borrow money to live,” continued Ngannou. “Nobody cares about that. I have no guarantee and I have no protection, so based on that experience I want to get something better, better terms on my contract, and obviously paid what I deserve.”
Ngannou, however, still has love for the UFC, and hopes he can work out a deal to continue fighting under its banner.
“The UFC is a beautiful and nice promotion,” said Ngannou. “I love being in the UFC. The only part that is challenging now is behind-the-scenes part. But fighting, I love it. That’s for sure, I love the promotion, that’s not questionable. I still hope that this works out. I still hope, I wish that it would work out. In the meantime, if it doesn’t work out, I can’t do anything.”
What do you think? Is Francis Ngannou being treated unfairly by the UFC?
Francis Ngannou doesn’t believe a matchup with Ciryl Gane is on the same level as Jon Jones. Although not official, Ngannous is expected to face Gane in a heavyweight title unification clash at UFC 270 which takes place early next year on January 22. Gane, of course, won the interim strap when he TKO’d Derrick […]
Although not official, Ngannous is expected to face Gane in a heavyweight title unification clash at UFC 270 which takes place early next year on January 22.
Gane, of course, won the interim strap when he TKO’d Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 in August. But it could have very easily been Jones facing Ngannou instead as it looked like the matchup to make — until Jones ran into pay issues with the UFC again.
And while Ngannou believes a matchup with Gane is still a good fight, the reality is it’s nothing compared to one with Jones.
“Not particularly,” Ngannou said when asked if it was as exciting as a fight with Jones (via MMA Fighting). “But it’s a good fight. You have to be aware of the danger of any fight, so it’s a fight, he’s a good opponent, but not on the level of a Jon Jones fight for example if that’s what you’re asking. It’s not the same thing.”
One may think that Ngannou and Gane being former teammates in France would make the matchup even more interesting with a backstory and everything.
However, “The Predator” played down the extent of their relationship stating that they were not close friends and that Gane was briefly helping him out for his fight with Cain Velasquez.
That is also one reason why fighting Gane won’t be awkward for Ngannou.
“That will not be awkward,” Ngannou added. “Fighting for me is my job first of all. I take it as a job. Maybe some people take it as a personal issue, but it’s just a job.”
In 2016, Tyson Fury was driving his brand new Ferrari at 190 miles per hour when he decided to kill himself. “I was driving on this strip of the highway where I am and, at the bottom of this five-mile strip, there is a massive bridge that crosses the motorway,” he told Joe Rogan in […]
In 2016, Tyson Fury was driving his brand new Ferrari at 190 miles per hour when he decided to kill himself.
“I was driving on this strip of the highway where I am and, at the bottom of this five-mile strip, there is a massive bridge that crosses the motorway,” he told Joe Rogan in 2018. “I got the car up to about 190mph and I was headed towards that bridge.”
Only a year earlier, Fury had defeated Wladimir Klitschko to become heavyweight boxing’s unified champion at the age of 27. He had it all. Flashy homes and cars. A loving family. The adulation of fans and pundits alike.
But having achieved that goal which for so long consumed his every waking thought—dethroning Klitschko—and feeling nothing but emptiness, he descended into a deep, suicidal depression.
“I didn’t care what no one was thinking, I didn’t care about hurting my family, friends, anybody,” continued Fury. “I didn’t care about nothing, I just wanted to die so bad, I gave up on life.”
“And just as I was heading towards that bridge at 190mph in this Ferrari—it would have crushed like a Coke can if I’d have hit it—I heard a voice saying: ‘No, don’t do this Tyson…’”
The Greatest Comeback In Sporting History?
In the depths of his much publicized mental health struggles, Fury had ballooned to over 400 pounds. Many believed he’d never make a boxing comeback, and at the time, Fury had no intention of doing so. He simply wanted to get his life back on track.
But in 2017, after being written off by many, most notably the “big dosser” himself Deontay Wilder, Fury posted a video to Instagram that has since proved prophetic.
“Guess who’s back? The one and only,” declared Fury in the video. “Shout going out to the big ‘Bronze Bomber’ Deontay Wilder. Big respect, for giving me the motivation, telling me I can’t do it and that I’m finished. I’m coming back for you baby. I’m coming back for you!”
Just over a week ago, the “Gypsy King” made good on his promise by defeating Wilder for the second (arguably third) time in their trilogy bout, placing the capstone on one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
Is A Transition To MMA On The Cards?
Now at the summit of boxing, all that’s seemingly left for Fury is to become its first undisputed heavyweight champion in over 20 years by defeating Oleksandr Usyk.
Sure, there’s also potential matchups with the likes of Andy Ruiz, Dillian Whyte and of course Anthony Joshua—who despite his recent loss to Usyk, would still present a hotly anticipated showdown (if he defeats the Ukrainian in their rematch). But in this era in which boxing-MMA crossover fights are becoming increasingly fashionable, will we ever see Fury strap on the four-ounce gloves?
It’s somehow almost comical to visualise Tyson Fury with his back on the canvas, throwing up a triangle. Or swivelling on his heel to send out a question mark kick. But if the “Gypsy King” is anything, he’s a man whose outward appearance belies his athletic abilities.
With a body drawn upon the lines of a puddle of spilled milk, Fury looks like he should be a slow, flat-footed, plodding giant. Instead, he moves with the agility of a man 100 pounds lighter. His feints, head movement and phenomenal cardio—in addition to a ring IQ that comes with boxing since the age of 10—are what has made him the greatest heavyweight boxer of his generation.
And it’s this athleticism that his father, “Gypsy” John Fury—whose uncanny likeness to his son could easily see him moonlight as the world’s best Tyson Fury impressionist—believes Tyson could apply with success in MMA.
“With the right training, he’d do very well,” John told Dan Hardy in August. “I’ve seen him excel in different sports like wrestling, so I’ve got kind of an idea what Tyson was from that. I know he can use more than his hands.”
“He’s quick, light on his feet and I do believe, if a top MMA trainer took him on, he could do big things with him—ask Darren Till. The rougher it gets with Tyson, the better he likes it. When he does finally retire from boxing, he’ll probably go to that [referring to MMA] and come back to boxing, but he will engage on that you’ll see.”
Tyson Fury Nixes MMA Switch, But Open To Crossover Fight
Tyson and his dad clearly have different ideas about his boxing retirement plans, however. In June, Fury put paid to any speculation that he’ll make a transition to MMA.
“No, I’ve got no real interest in grappling up and down on the floor and all that sort of stuff,” Fury told talkSPORT. “I’m a stand-up fighting man, I don’t wrestle up and down and grab each other’s arms and sit on each other and all that.”
With the blood of a thousand proud Irish Traveller bare-knuckle boxers flowing through his veins, Tyson seems to be a man for whom the Marquess of Queensbury rules are sacrosanct. The sweaty, gnarly art of grappling, he believes, carries with it little of the nobility so ingrained in the Sweet Science. And while he’s locked in a ring or cage, never the twain shall these two disciplines meet.
The “Gypsy King,” however, didn’t completely shut the door on a striking-only fight with an MMA fighter.
“I’ve no interest in all that stuff; I like to stand up and fight so would I ever compete as an MMA fighter? Hell no! Would I compete with small gloves on in a cage in a fight? Yes. But no gripping and grappling. The noble art of standing up and what men have been doing for centuries; I don’t see any noble science in wrestling up and down the floor.”
Who Could Tyson Fury Face?
Were Fury to officially declare his openness to a crossover bout, you could imagine that plenty of UFC fighters past and present would throw their hat into the Octagon.
Some, like Vitor Belfort, already have. High on his quick stoppage victory over 58-year-old Evander Holyfield last month, Belfort declared that Fury, in addition to Canelo Alvarez and Jake Paul—basically any boxer, no matter how big or small—can get it. So if there’s a boxing commission on the planet that takes a liberal approach to booking criminally mismatched fights, Fury always has a matchup with “The Phenom” to look forward to.
Tyson’s most likely, and perhaps only realistic opponent however, is Francis Ngannou, who’s traded barbs with Fury in the past, and has often hinted at making the switch to boxing. If Ngannou defeats Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January, and with Jon Jones’ extracurricular activities having likely ended hopes of a super fight, he may soon join Fury in that rare club of being the heavyweight with no one exciting left to beat.
It’s unlikely the UFC would ever green light a one-off, striking-only bout under its banner. But given Ngannou’s recent gripes with his employer, he’d surely be keen to land a big payday by stepping into the ring, rather than Octagon, to box Fury.
This month, renowned boxing trainer Teddy Atlas threw a wet rag on hopes that the matchup would deliver anything resembling the edge-of-your-seat excitement of Fury vs. Wilder.
“Let’s be honest with ourselves, if it’s not gonna be based on MMA rules, if it’s gonna be with boxing rules, the guy who’s been boxing since he was 12 years old, the guy who’s had 200 amateur fights, the guy who’s trained in a gym for all those years to be a top boxer, he’s gonna have a huge edge, maybe an insurmountable edge to be quite frank,” Atlas told Submission Radio.
“It would be a big money fight. Would it be competitive? Most likely not… Fury is a pretty complete package, besides having the advantage of years and years of boxing training.”
Still, seeing Fury fight Ngannou—perhaps an even bigger power puncher than Wilder—to decide who is truly the Baddest Man on the Planet, would be a bout to move the needle and capture the imaginations of many.
Renowned boxing trainer Teddy Atlas has predicted how a blockbuster crossover showdown between UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou and WBC and The Ring titleholder Tyson Fury would play out. Tyson Fury’s stock in the boxing world further rose last weekend. For the third time, he met Deontay Wilder inside the ring. The pair first clashed […]
Renowned boxing trainer Teddy Atlas has predicted how a blockbuster crossover showdown between UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou and WBC and The Ring titleholder Tyson Fury would play out.
Tyson Fury’s stock in the boxing world further rose last weekend. For the third time, he met Deontay Wilder inside the ring. The pair first clashed At Los Angeles’ Staples Center in 2018. The bout ended in a controversial split-decision draw, setting the stage for a 2020 rematch. When they ran it back in Las Vegas, it was “The Gypsy King” who left the ring with the belts after securing a seventh-round TKO.
Despite targeting a huge match against his compatriot Anthony Joshua, Fury was forced to grant “The Bronze Bomber” a contractually obliged trilogy fight. On October 9, the heavyweight stars collided inside the T-Mobile Arena. After trading knockdowns, Fury secured the knockout win in the penultimate round. The fight was praised as one of the best in recent memory.
While Fury will likely face the mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte next, should he defeat Otto Wallin later this month, and has the unification challenge of fellow champion Oleksandr Usyk lying in wait, talks of a potential crossover clash still float around “The Gypsy King.”
Earlier this year, Fury suggested he would fight the UFC Heavyweight Champion following bouts against Wilder and Joshua. “The Predator” has also been open to the potential battle of behemoths in the past. With the likes of Conor McGregor, Vitor Belfort, and Anderson Silva all crossing over to the ring in the past, a fight between Fury and Ngannou isn’t that far-fetched.
During a recent appearance on Submission Radio, boxing personality Teddy Atlas gave his take on the potential MMA vs. boxing contest. In his mind, there’s no debate over who would have the edge inside the squared circle.
“I think the making of that is really all based on money. Let’s be honest with ourselves, if it’s not gonna be based on MMA rules, if it’s gonna be with boxing rules, the guy who’s been boxing since he was 12 years old, the guy who’s had 200 amateur fights, the guy who’s trained in a gym for all those years to be a top boxer, he’s gonna have a huge edge, maybe an insurmountable edge to be quite frank.”
Despite the likely uncompetitive nature of the matchup, Atlas believes the demand for it would be there amongst fans and pundits. He thinks that’s because they like to make themselves believe the mixed martial artist, or lesser experienced boxer, has a puncher’s chance, similar to the build-up to Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather.
“We probably fool ourselves because we want to fool ourselves. We want to be entertained, we want to believe it… If you’re gonna support this fight, you wanna believe that the big monster from Cameroon can land a punch and knock the guy cold, even though he’s an MMA fighter and not a boxer… How often does a guy who’s not as developed, not nearly as developed as the top fighter, how many times have we really seen where he’s got a puncher’s edge… not too often.
“It would be a big money fight. Would it be competitive? Most likely not… Fury is a pretty complete package, besides having the advantage of years and years of boxing training.”
UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was originally assumed set to fight the former light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, for his first title defense, but negotiations fell through earlier this year. Now, Ngannou isn’t losing sleep anymore if a fight with Jones doesn’t end up happening in both of their careers. Ngannou will face Ciryl Gane […]
UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was originally assumed set to fight the former light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, for his first title defense, but negotiations fell through earlier this year. Now, Ngannou isn’t losing sleep anymore if a fight with Jones doesn’t end up happening in both of their careers.
Ngannou will face Ciryl Gane early next year in a unification bout, almost a full year after he earned the belt against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260. He knocked Miocic out in their rematch and finally realized a championship dream.
In the aftermath of Jones’ latest legal issues in Las Vegas, where he was arrested on domestic violence charges, Ngannou has doubts that we’ll ever see a matchup between two of the biggest stars in the UFC.
“At this point, I don’t know much about what will happen in the future,” Ngannou told Ariel Helwani during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour. “But I don’t stress about that, what will happen will happen. I wish that (the Jones) fight will happen, but I don’t know about it anymore.”
“If everything goes right, there are so many fights that you can do that would be a good fight, so you let everything go.”
Francis Ngannou was expected to face Jon Jones for his first title defense, but contract negotiations never materalized
Ngannou and Jones have both been at odds with the UFC brass over contract negotiations, most notably Jones, who hasn’t fought since early 2020. Jones vacated the light heavyweight belt after defeating Dominick Reyes in a close fight to focus on a potential run at heavyweight.
Now, Ngannou will face Gane at UFC 270 and Jones’ UFC future remains uncertain. It’s amazing how much can change within the span of just a few months.
Do you think Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones will ever happen?
It seems that we might not get Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones after all. A potential fight between Ngannou and Jones has been the talk of the town since “The Predator” won the heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic early this year. In fact, with Jones hard at work to bulk up for a heavyweight move, […]
However, in the wake of the most recent arrest from Jones, Ngannou is not sure that this fight will ever happen. Speaking on TheMMA Hour, the champ explained that between Jones’s uncertain future and the issues he has with the UFC himself, he is not holding his breath for this fight to ever go down.
“At this point, I don’t know much about what will happen in the future. But I don’t stress about that, what will happen will happen. I wish that (the Jones) fight will happen, but I don’t know about it anymore. But it will be okay. There’s so much good fights out there. If everything goes right, there’s so much fights that you can do that would be a good fight, so you let everything go.”
It would certainly be disappointing if Francis Ngannou never ends up fighting Jon Jones, considering how interesting the stylistic matchup between the two would be. That being said, as the champ alluded to, there are other interesting fights out there down the line, even though they would likely be a step down from the super fight with Jones.
First things first, he will be taking on Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, in January. If he is able to unify his heavyweight title here, against the interim champ, there are a lot of interesting steps to take next, with or without Jones.
Watch the full interview with Francis Ngannou below: