Francis Ngannou is holding firm on his contract demands to the UFC.
In January, Ngannou successfully defended his UFC heavyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. Following the bout, Ngannou was open about having serious issues with the UFC, namely the way they have treated him as champion. Recently though, Ngannou revealed that since airing his grievances with the UFC, some top officials have made an effort to resolve their differences.
“Just after we spoke we had a meeting, a dinner with the UFC and that wasn’t about the contract situation, it was just to clear the air, because it is clear that at this point, we had to clear the air,” Ngannou told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “It was just trying to speak things out. We spoke, I spoke about my frustration, but also I had to go back home because it’s not a thing that’s supposed to be solved in one night or over one dinner or two dinners. I think it might take some time.
“I [also] had a dinner with Hunter [Campbell] a week ago and it was great. Friendly dinner, no business involved. But as far as business, we haven’t really moved on. I think, just now, what we’re trying to do is clear the air.”
But though they’ve been working on it, Ngannou appeared unsure of whether or not his differences with the UFC could actually be solved, saying “there is a lot of work to do here,” but allowing that the problems they are facing are entirely business related, not personal.
“Dana White was present in the first one,” Ngannou said. “It went well because it was just personal and had nothing to do with business, and personally I have nothing against anybody. My problem is on the business side, which is not going good. I want the best for me, as far as business is concerned, so I think we can have the best personal relationship, but we have to also work out the business relationship as well.”
Though Ngannou has previously noted multiple issues with the UFC, including pay and promotion, the biggest one that appears to be a blocker for their continued relationship is the specter of professional boxing. Ngannou has repeatedly said that he wants the opportunity to box heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who appears equally as interested. In fact, this past weekend, Ngannou sat ringside for Fury’s fight against Dillian Whyte, and after Fury defended his heavyweight titles, “The Gypsy King” beckoned Ngannou into the ring where the two of them essentially cut a promo for the proposed superfight. And with that in mind, Ngannou is tripling down on his previous statements that there is no scenario where he re-signs with the UFC, unless they allow him to pursue boxing as well.
“The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion,” Ngannou said. “That’s not an option. It has to be part of the discussion, because if that’s not part of the discussion now, it will never be. If I sign another contract now, and basically the same model of a contract, I’m screwed. It’s not happening ever. So we have to figure out a way to implement this into a contract.”
The UFC has made this exception before, allowing Conor McGregor to box Floyd Mayweather in one of the biggest superfights in history, but thus far, the promotion has seemed cool to the idea of doing so for Ngannou. In this instance though, with Ngannou’s contract up and free agency looming, the heavyweight champion can simply wait the UFC out and then pursue the matchup with Fury next year, without the UFC getting any cut of it. In fact, many have suggested this is exactly what Ngannou should do so as to maximize his payday for the fight, however, the heavyweight champion says he does want to re-sign with the UFC because even though he wants to box, he still has big fights left in the organization he wants to pursue as well.
“I think the UFC is a great promotion and I want to keep fighting,” Ngannou said. “Tyson Fury is not my last fight. I want to keep fighting after Tyson Fury. There’s still a lot of fights out there. There’s Jon Jones, there’s a trilogy with Stipe [Miocic], there’s big fight I can do in the UFC, so I would really like that to happen. I would really like also to get to a common point. Yes, I can do Tyson Fury on my own, but what next? I would like to keep fighting. I would like for us to come to an agreement, but for that they have to have a good understanding of the situation.”
Whether or not the UFC will come to the understanding is anyone’s guess. For now though, Ngannou remains beholden to the promotion and as such, no official talks have taken place between he and Fury. However, one way or another, Ngannou remains absolutely convinced that he and Fury are destined to meet inside the ring one day.
“My contract situation is not a roadblock because either way, my contract situation will not stop me from fighting,” Ngannou said. “So I think it’s pretty easy. Tyson Fury’s contract situation as well is coming up soon, therefore, there’s nothing that can hold us from doing it.”