While the MMA leader opened its fight schedule for 2023 this past weekend in Las Vegas, the main talking point following Saturday’s event didn’t surround the action in the cage.
At the post-fight press conference, White made a number of sizable announcements. The most significant surrounded the future of Ngannou, who’d been in a contractual dispute with the promotion for over a year.
The UFC president announced that the back and forth had concluded unsuccessfully, with “The Predator” departing the Octagon and entering unrestricted free agency.
With the announcement, one side of the story was given. According to White, Ngannou turned down a sizable offer owing to a desire to earn more money against “lesser” opposition.
In addition to that, the 53-year-old claimed that Ngannou was struggling following knee surgery, and weighs in excess of 300 pounds
During a special episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Tuesday, Ngannou broke his silence on his UFC exit. The 36-year-old dismissed White’s remarks as lies, naming his current weight as 275 pounds. He shared a similar sentiment regarding the suggestion he’s targeting ‘easier’ opponents, insisting he would have fought Jon Jones on March 4.
As well as going on to clarify the demands that weren’t met by the promotion, ultimately leading to the breakdown in negotiations, the Cameroon native spoke directly about his now-former boss.
Ngannou Pinpoints Start Of Fractured White Relationship
While speculation about a damaged connection between the UFC and its heavyweight champion was widely reported in the second half of 2021 after Ngannou spoke out against the promotion’s decision to create an interim title, it was hammered home last January.
Ahead of UFC 270, pre-event talk largely surrounded the contract situation of Ngannou, who was heading toward the final bout of his deal. With a win over Ciryl Gane, “The Predator” secured extra leverage with the enactment of the champions clause, keeping him under the UFC banner for another 11 months.
Many came to a firm conclusion about White’s feelings on the result when the UFC president wasn’t present in the cage to wrap the heavyweight title around Ngannou’s waist, with matchmaker Mick Maynard returning the belt to its owner instead.
But in Ngannou’s mind, the damage was done way before his final appearance.
In his interaction with Helwani, Ngannou noted the extent of his fractured relationship with the UFC president. He revealed that when he last texted White, around the time of his rematch with Stipe Miocic in 2021, he was ignored.
According to the Cameroonian, the animosity likely stemmed from a comment he made prior to his first meeting with Miocic, which saw him propose fresh contract negotiations after each fight.
“I said, ‘It doesn’t matter. We can make a deal for this fight. (Let’s) just focus on the (first) Stipe fight.’ Because I was making that deal like six weeks before the fight, and they were pushing me,“ Ngannou said. “And I didn’t even have time to find a manager then. I’m like, ‘OK, I will do it (on) my own.’ And then sitting there with him, I’m like, ‘Let’s just focus on this one. We can negotiate after every fight.’ I think that was the thing that I said to Dana. And you shouldn’t say something like that to somebody like Dana White.”
Ngannou first collided with Miocic back in January 2018. Having pinpointed that period as the start of White’s negative attitude towards him, “The Predator” noted that the final four years of his UFC tenure felt like competing without a promoter.
Now, the former UFC heavyweight king is set to be promoted by forces outside of the MMA leader. And if his latest remarks are anything to go by, that’s likely to be in a different sport next time out.
What do you make of Francis Ngannou’s comments on his relationship with Dana White?
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