Francis Ngannou/UFC Split May Have Come Down To One Sentence

It appears that heavyweight star Francis Ngannou‘s departure from the UFC may have come down to one crucial disagreement.

Last January, Ngannou’s contractual dispute with the MMA leader came to a head when he made the walk for the final fight on his deal at UFC 270. While a defeat to Ciryl Gane would have left him out of contract and with reduced leverage, a victory activated the champions clause and kept “The Predator” under the UFC banner for another 11 months.

Despite that, though, the promotion failed to come to terms with its heavyweight king throughout his 2022 on the sidelines, and this past weekend, it was confirmed that the two parties have parted ways.

UFC President Dana White confirmed the news during the UFC Vegas 67 post-fight press conference, claiming that Ngannou wants to fight ‘lesser opposition’ for more money. But for the Cameroonian, the dispute has long appeared to be about much more than remuneration.

Early last year, prior to his unanimous decision victory over “Bon Gamin,” Ngannou reiterated his desire to box, something he looked to do before settling into mixed martial arts professionally.

In an interview with TMZ, the 36-year-old even labeled the freedom to enter the ring as a non-negotiable for any new deal with the UFC.

“It’s always been down the line. This is something that, I’m not taking my eyes off it,” Ngannou said. “This is going to happen either way, and even if I stay — even if or when the UFC and I, we finally, we finalize a [new] deal, the boxing part has to be into it, because I can’t see myself to retire without boxing.” (h/t MMA Fighting)

White Shuts Down Boxing Option As Ngannou Exits

Given Ngannou’s insistence on lacing the boxing gloves before his time in combat sports comes to an end, remarks made by White while he announced the heavyweight’s departure would appear to shed some light on the breakdown in negotiations.

Although he initially put forth the idea that Ngannou is looking to avoid UFC-level competition, White also clarified the promotion’s stance on its roster members looking for the contractual freedom to explore opportunities in boxing.

Wit that, White may well have explained the main component behind Ngannou’s exit in seven words…

“Nobody’s getting boxing in their contracts here,” White insisted.

During his recovery from knee surgery last year, Ngannou stepped up talk of a possible boxing move with an in-ring interaction with WBC Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury following his victory over Dillian Whyte at London’s Wembley Stadium.

At one point, “The Gypsy King” even labeled March this year as a likely date for their showdown. Since then, however, Fury has remained focus on his boxing reign. After successfully defending against Derek Chisora, the Englishman is eyeing up a unification bout with unified WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO heavyweight titleholder Oleksandr Usyk.

Tyson Fury & Francis Ngannou

Nevertheless, having officially parted ways with the UFC, perhaps Ngannou will look to reignite talk of boxing match in the coming days, weeks, and months. As well as Fury, “The Predator” has previously named Deontay Wilder as a possible opponent.

Now outside the Octagon, that matchup and a host more have become real possibilities for Ngannou.

Francis Ngannou is set to give his side of the split on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani later today. Stay tuned to MMA News for coverage!