Francis Ngannou is fresh off his first UFC title defense against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. He is in a place where he is comfortable at the top of the UFC heavyweight division and has proved he has what it takes to beat the best. Yet, with all of this clout, Ngannou is still not happy with the UFC. He was having negotiation trouble with them leading up to the fight and seems to be continuing in a strange place with Dana White.
The strained relationship between White and Ngannou could be a breaking point for the heavyweight champion. Ngannou has mentioned a desire to break out of his contract, and “freedom” is a big concern for him. One of the most successful fight managers in MMA, Ali Abdelaziz, spoke out about his understanding of the feud between Ngannou and the UFC.
“Dana White‘s been waiting 20 years for someone like Francis to arrive, to be on the scene, to become the baddest heavyweight on the planet,” Abdelaziz said to MMA Junkie. “I think it’s a lot of ego involved, a lot of people involved that are not supposed to be involved… I think this thing could be solved. All they need to do, Dana take Francis out to dinner, and they sit down and talk. And I’m very confident, very confident, they will get a deal done.”
Abdelaziz is not Ngannou’s manager but has represented some of the best in the sport. He has a very good relationship with Dana White and the UFC and is usually able to get his fighters what they want. Ngannou wants a chance to try out his boxing skills against Tyson Fury, a plan that Abdelaziz thinks the UFC should jump on.
“Francis said it’s not about the money, it’s about freedom,” he said. “Maybe, Francis wants to box, right? That’s his dream. I think Dana White can make his dream become true because he’s the baddest promoter on this planet. If you want to promote a fight against Tyson Fury, he’s an ESPN guy, Dana’s an ESPN guy, you bring both of them and make this fight happen. But I think they need to kill all the noise, stop talking to the media, stop tweeting stuff, stop putting stuff on Instagram; both sides.
There have been a few fighters under UFC contract that have expressed interest in a crossover to boxing. The UFC has only ever allowed one fighter to do so, that was Conor McGregor against Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
“Can you imagine Dana White promoting Francis to fight Tyson Fury next? Forget about Jon Jones. That’s what I’d do. I’d be like, ‘Let’s make this fight.’ That’d be the first fight on a new deal, right. And I think it could happen… His main thing is he wanted to box. I think Dana White will let him box. But he has to be, ‘I’m gonna be a team player here and we’re gonna work together,'” Abdelaziz said.
Some believed that if Ngannou had lost at UFC 270, he would have left the promotion and could have made the transition on his own. However, since his first title defense was successful, he will remain under contract with the UFC until at least the end of the year.
Ngannou has already mentioned that he needs surgery and will be out for an extended period of time. If the UFC wants, they can strip him of his title and the Ngannou will be free to do what he wants.
Do you think the UFC should allow Ngannou to fight Tyson Fury while still under contract?