Francis Ngannou Opens Up On UFC Departure, Responds To Dana White

Francis Ngannou has opened up about his widely publicized separation from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

This past weekend, the MMA world was turned upside down when the UFC‘s heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, parted ways with the promotion, effectively putting an end to a multi-year negotiation period.

At the UFC Vegas 67 post-fight press conference, Dana White shared his thoughts with the public, stating his belief that Ngannou was attempting to fight lesser opponents for larger paydays. He then announced that the UFC would waive the right to match any deal Ngannou could receive elsewhere.

Francis Ngannou Disappointed About UFC Departure

Francis Ngannou

On a special Tuesday edition of The MMA Hour, Francis Ngannou sat down with Ariel Helwani to discuss for the first time his split with the UFC.

The interview began with Ngannou expressing that he has no regrets with how he handled the negotiations with the UFC despite the two failing to come to terms. Ngannou stated that he saw the signs earlier in the week of the company’s decision to move on from the negotiating table, though the outcome was still of great disappointment to him.

“I really hoped for this to work out. I really wished that we could find a way to work (it) out. I’ve been in the UFC (for) the past seven years, and I always (saw) myself in the UFC. I never really envisioned myself out of the UFC. And when it came to this point — because at first, it was just a matter of principle. It wasn’t even an idea of leaving the UFC. It was just like, ‘OK, it’s the principle. I need this,’ you know? We have to do this right. Then, it (took) on (another) dimension.”

Ngannou also responded to White’s claim that he would have become the highest-paid heavyweight in UFC history with the proposed deal. First, Ngannou stated that this cannot be proven, as the salaries of other fighters are not public. Then, he went on to reject the narrative that his negotiations with the UFC was primarily about money.

“I hear them talking about money. Obviously, money is a part of it, but it wasn’t all about money. I need some stuff. And they would never talk about those stuff. It’s very interesting how they kind of pick what they’re gonna talk about. They don’t talk about what the negotiation was about.

“They just talk about the money that they (offered) me that could’ve made me the biggest-paid heavyweight in the history, which is how much? They can’t tell. Biggest than who? Nobody knows what (anybody) gets. So it’s all their narrative. They control that narrative which cannot be proven. So I don’t believe that, but I wish it could’ve worked. I really do, and I really wanted (it to), but not at any cost.”

Instead of money, Ngannou had other specific requests that were rejected. He revealed that he asked for sponsorship opportunities, health insurance, and a fighter advocate to be present in board meetings. Regarding the health insurance, Ngannou claims that his request was for health insurance to be provided to all fighters on the UFC roster, not just himself.

“They said (they) don’t do business like that. They said, yes, I can pay my health insurance and all that. I’m like, ‘Yes, I can pay my health insurance. At this point, health insurance, for me, is not a problem. But how about those guys (who) are still at the bottom (making) $10,000 + $10,000 or (lose) a fight (and) make $10,000? They can’t really afford that health insurance.’ And I have been there, so it’s something that I still carry in my heart.”

Ngannou believes that instead of negotiating in good faith and looking to compromise, the UFC tried to throw money at him in an attempt to silence him.

Francis Ngannou: “Dana is Dana”

Dana White
Image Credit: Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

All in all, Ngannou said he wanted a non-conventional arrangement that treats him as a true independent contractor. This, the Cameroonian states, is something the promotion was unwilling to provide. And the questionable parting words provided by Dana White over the weekend is not being taken personally but was instead perceived as a symptom of the UFC president’s frustrations.

“Dana is Dana. I don’t care about what he said. And Dana cannot hurt me. Saying things cannot hurt me. From where I come from, I have heard a lot worse than that. And yet, I’m still here…

“I think what he was expressing was his frustration. Because it doesn’t matter what he said. Regardless, he’s upset. He’s not happy about this situation.”

Likelihood of UFC Return

Although Ngannou is now an unrestricted free agent and was unable to come to terms with the UFC, this doesn’t mean the door is not open for a return, which many fans will take comfort in learning.

“I don’t take any of this (personally). (None) of this (touches) me at all. I think I have gotten to a point in my life that, I’m cool, man, you know? I get past everything. I have seen a lot. And one thing that I have also learned in life: never say never. So down the road, maybe. Maybe I’ll go out there, I have a boxing match…I don’t know. But one thing that I know is that even in that situation, it has to be on my terms. It has to be on my terms,” Ngannou concluded.

Francis Ngannou exits the UFC with a promotional record of 12-2, with 11 of the 12 wins being finishes, 10 by KO/TKO. Ngannou has often been dubbed as the scariest fighter in UFC history, but with a résumé that includes victories over names like Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, Ciryl Gane, Curtis Blaydes (x2), Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, and many others, he is also one of the best heavyweights to ever compete in the promotion.

And while it is unclear what his next moves will be, it’s a safe bet that eyes from around the globe will be carefully tracking the next moves of The Predator.

What do you think the future holds for Francis Ngannou?

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