Francis Ngannou has just successfully defended his UFC heavyweight title for the first time. In the leadup to the fight, a good portion of the attention he was getting was regarding the relationship between him and the UFC.
Over the last several months, Ngannou was having a difficult time dealing with the UFC and negotiations. It seems the trouble continued right up until fight night.
“I walked into the room waiting for my manager, my coach,” Ngannou explained on The MMA Hour (via ESPN). “And they were like, ‘Wow.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ They told me they just received an email from the UFC saying they’re going to sue [Marquel Martin] for talking with this guy, Nakisa. Yeah. I’m like, ‘Who is Nakisa?’ I wouldn’t recognize him if you put him in front of me.”
Ngannou has been talking about his desire to box for a while now. When he was having trouble securing the purse he wanted from the UFC, he mentioned wanting to try out boxing because of the significant pay differential. A few former UFC fighters have made the switch over and made more than they ever have in the UFC. Ngannou wants to get in on that money but his contract prevents him from doing so.
Now that Ngannou has beaten Ciryl Gane, he will not officially be a free agent until at least the end of the year. In the meantime, it is unlikely that he will be allowed to set up a fight with Tyson Fury as he had publically wanted. He also wanted more money from the UFC, and it is unclear if that will happen.
“You can be free and fight for the UFC,” Ngannou said. “I just want to be free. We are supposedly independent contractors. [An] independent contractor is technically a free person. That’s the reason why they need some adjustments in that contract. That’s what I’ve been fighting for. It doesn’t look like they want to talk to me anymore.”
Ngannou is not the only fighter on the UFC roster who has publically spoken about their unhappiness with payment and contracts. Dana White did not stay for the post-fight press conference at UFC 270, and there has been no word from his or the UFC’s side on this matter.
Do you think Francis Ngannou deserves the freedom to try boxing if he wants to?