Earlier this year, Francis Ngannou successfully defended his heavyweight title, winning a unanimous decision over Ciryl Gane at UFC 271. The bout was the final fight on Ngannou’s UFC contract and following the win, “The Predator” spoke openly about being unhappy with how the UFC has treated him and what it would take for him to re-sign with the organization.
As a man who has recently had his own struggles with the business dealings of the UFC, St-Pierre advises Ngannou to go where he is going to get paid his worth.
“I’m telling him as a friend, he needs to get paid to his value,” St-Pierre told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “And if he’s not satisfied with what the UFC gives him, go get your service somewhere else where they’re gonna pay you well, because he’s not young. He’s coming to a point that, he’s a heavyweight, but heavyweight, you never know what can happen. One punch can change the fight. It’s very rare that you see a heavyweight staying champion for a long time because of that reason.
“So he needs to get paid. He needs to go somewhere where he’s gonna be paid to what he’s worth, and if the UFC are not ready to do this, now he has the power on his side. He can negotiate now, because of his contract. I believe he’s in a very good position right now.”
Ngannou’s position, at the moment, is one of waiting. The UFC heavyweight champion recently underwent knee surgery that will keep him sidelined for approximately 9 months, a timeline which coincides well with his current contract requirements, which reportedly prevent Ngannou from signing with any other organization until December. If the UFC is not able to re-sign Ngannou before then, he will officially become a free agent and figures to field lucrative offers from a number of organizations.
The one offer that’s garnered the most interest, though, is a possible boxing match between Ngannou and current lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. The two men have made overtures toward one another over the past several months, and a superfight between them would likely be a lucrative affair. But St-Pierre cautions Ngannou about the dangers of taking such a fight.
“I think he deserves it, that kind of money, millions of dollars, but deep down inside, because he’s such an incredible talent in MMA, I’m afraid that if he goes to boxing against Tyson Fury, yes he’s gonna make one shot against Tyson Fury with a lot of money, but he’s a specialist of mixed martial arts,” St-Pierre said. “Tyson Fury has boxed all his life, so the odds will go towards Tyson Fury in a boxing match. Of course they will never fight in MMA because Francis will crush him in under 30 seconds, but I’m just afraid that if he steps into boxing, maybe he’s gonna get the punch — sometimes that stuff can break a career.
“So if I would be him, I would tend to fight in MMA as long as I’m not tired of doing it, and when he’s at the end of his career, if he wants to do a boxing fight, why not? But it’s up to him. He can do whatever he wants. And if you look at him, all his life, the odds were always against him and he always made it. So maybe he’s gonna knock out Tyson Fury and I don’t know what I’m talking about. Who knows? I wish him the best.”
Ultimately, Ngannou’s decision will likely be dictated by the quality of the offers he receives. Regardless of what happens, though, Ngannou has already cemented a legacy in the sport and appears set to earn a substantial amount on his next fight contract, and for St-Pierre, it couldn’t happen to a better guy.
“I’m so proud for him,” St-Pierre said. “I’m very happy. He works so hard. If you read his bio, the guy crossed the ocean with a boat and can’t swim. The guy could have died. So for him, the significance of fighting must be different for him, coming from that background. He’s got an incredible story, and he made it. I’m so glad he made it and now he deserves it, 100 percent. He even fought his last fight, I heard he fought with a knee injury. That’s crazy. He took an enormous risk and now it has to pay off. Things need to pay him, life needs to pay him back. He worked too hard for this. He deserves it more than anybody.”