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Francis Ngannou blasts UFC over restricting fighter sponsorships: ‘I lost a deal of over a million dollars’

UFC 270 Weigh-in Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

Francis Ngannou has been one of the most vocal fighters taking aim at the UFC over pay in recent months but now the heavyweight champion is also taking the promotion to task over restrictive sponsorship practices where athletes are involved.

His latest issue came up after one-time UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold compared the organization to the mafia with how athletes are treated with everything from compensation to a lack of health benefits. That’s when Ngannou brought up sponsorships and how the new model in the UFC prevents them from earning a lot of money in addition to what they take home inside the cage.

“Fighters are ripped off with sponsorship,” Ngannou wrote on Twitter. “It’s a huge source of revenue for us but the company keeps exploiting that for their own benefit.

“I understand that the sport needs to look good with uniforms but we should at least have a right for a minimum of two approved sponsors for in the octagon.”

Prior to the UFC striking a deal with Reebok in 2015, fighters were able to get their own sponsors and wear logos and other kinds of advertisements on t-shirts and hats worn to the octagon as well as the same on shorts, trunks and other apparel used during the fight.

Once the official uniform policy became the law of the land, fighters were no longer allowed to wear any sponsor on their gear outside of those secured by the UFC — and that additional money paid for a logo placed on the apparel didn’t necessarily go back to the athletes.

Even before the uniform policy went into effect, the UFC had already instituted a “sponsor tax” where businesses would have to pay the promotion a fee before any logos could be placed on a fighter’s gear.

While certain UFC deals will ultimately result in money being paid back to the fighters, Ngannou hasn’t seen enough of that to justify how much he’s lost already.

In fact, Ngannou revealed he was personally affected by another sponsorship restriction because the UFC wouldn’t allow him to promote a cryptocurrency brand that conflicted with the organizations’s overall deal with a different company.

“Last year I lost a deal of over a million dollars from a crypto exchange because the partnership with Crypto.com,” Ngannou said. “What do I got from it? Inflation is up.”

As of now, Ngannou is still set to become a free agent at the end of 2022, although UFC president Dana White has consistently stated that he wants to keep the heavyweight champion as part of the promotion. There’s no telling if this latest gripe will cause an even bigger fissure between Ngannou and the UFC.

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