Why did Francis Ngannou Leave the UFC?

Why did Francis Ngannou Leave the UFC?

Why did Francis Ngannou Leave the UFC?

Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, recently made headlines by parting ways with the UFC, becoming the first UFC champion to depart the promotion mid-title reign in over a decade.

His departure stemmed from a prolonged contractual standoff with the UFC, in which he sought several concessions outside of the usual framework for a UFC contract.

The reasons behind Ngannou's departure are multifaceted and involve critical issues such as fighter pay, contractual terms, and his desire for more freedom and respect within the promotion.

Francis Ngannou's Contractual Standoff

Contract Negotiations and Demands

In a recent interview on "The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani," Ngannou revealed that during the lengthy contract negotiation period with the UFC, he made several requests.

Such requests included a three-fight deal, the promotion waiving extension clauses, health insurance for all fighters, in-cage sponsorships for all fighters, and the appointment of an athlete advocate to represent UFC athletes in the company’s board meetings.

But most of these requests were not met, leading to a breakdown in negotiations.

Lack of Freedom and Rights

Ngannou expressed dissatisfaction with the terms offered by the UFC, stating that the proposed contract did not afford him enough freedom.

He emphasized feeling constrained and powerless under the terms of the contract, leading him to seek more autonomy and control over his career.

Dispute Over Fighter Pay

One of the primary issues that led to the contractual standoff was fighter pay.

Despite UFC president Dana White's claim that the promotion offered Ngannou a deal that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the history of the company, Ngannou turned down the offer, citing specific issues that extended beyond his personal deal.

The breakdown in negotiations was also fueled by Ngannou's desire for fair compensation and recognition of the value he brings to the sport.

UFC's Response and Ngannou's Future Plans

UFC's Release of Ngannou

The UFC ultimately chose to waive its matching rights clause, making Ngannou a free agent. Contrary to the UFC's characterization, Ngannou disputed the claim that he was released by the promotion, stating that his contract had expired in early-to-mid December, and he was already a free agent.

Desire to Compete in Boxing

Ngannou expressed his interest in pursuing a career in boxing, potentially facing top stars such as Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

He highlighted the UFC's focus on luring him back with more money and scoffed at the narrative of facing "lesser competition".

His aspirations to explore opportunities in boxing underscore his pursuit of greater freedom and the ability to make decisions aligned with his career goals.

Impact on Potential Opponents and Future Plans

The departure of Ngannou from the UFC has significant implications for potential opponents and the future of the heavyweight division.

Former two-time heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, who has had his own challenges with the UFC, expressed understanding of Ngannou's decision and wished him the best in his future endeavors.

Miocic had hoped for a trilogy bout with Ngannou but now looks to face the winner of UFC 285’s main event for the heavyweight title.

Future Opportunities for Francis Ngannou

Potential Career Moves

Following his departure from the UFC, Ngannou has drawn interest from various MMA promotions and is currently representing himself in negotiations. While he has not ruled out a return to the UFC in the future, he emphasized the importance of respect, freedom, and control over his career decisions.

Options Outside the UFC

Ngannou's departure has sparked speculation about his potential next steps. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has emerged as an enticing option, offering substantial prize money and the opportunity to compete in a new environment with significant financial incentives.

Also, Bellator has expressed interest in Ngannou, highlighting the potential for a competitive heavyweight division and the possibility of signing him in the future.

On the whole

Francis Ngannou's departure from the UFC was driven by a culmination of factors, including contractual disputes, fighter pay concerns, and his desire for greater freedom and respect within the promotion.

As he explores opportunities beyond the UFC, the future holds various possibilities for Ngannou, with potential moves to organizations such as the PFL and Bellator.

His departure marks a significant development in the combat sports landscape, underscoring the ongoing discussions surrounding athlete rights, fair compensation, and the pursuit of greater autonomy within elite fighting organizations.


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