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?
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