UFC 270 on January 22nd could be the last time we see Francis Ngannou inside the Octagon.
When the UFC’s next pay-per-view goes down in Anaheim, CA, the current UFC heavyweight champion will close out the show in a title unification bout against interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane. Depending on the outcome, “The Predator” may be looking for a new promotion to call home.
After months of reported contract negotiation issues, it sounds like Ngannou’s team and the UFC have come to an impasse.
“From the beginning, we’ve always and still do remain, like, open to negotiating with UFC,” Ngannou agent Marquel Martin of CAA said on Sirius XM’s “Throwing Down with Renee and Miesha” (transcribed by MMA Fighting).
“Even from my standpoint and his representation’s standpoint, UFC is the best MMA promoter in the game, in the business. However, it has to make sense for Francis. At the end of the day, I work for Francis, and he and I spent a lot of time chatting back and forth and trying to understand, okay, exactly what does that mean for his future, and we’ve had a lot of back and forth with the UFC. But to be honest with you, I haven’t heard back from the UFC since, I want to say June.”
Francis Ngannou’s Team Claim No Communication From UFC
Compounding the problem, Martin represents Creative Artist Agency (CAA) which is a direct competitor of Endeavor, the holding company that currently owns the UFC after a blockbuster deal in the summer of 2016.
“You hear this false narrative of representation [at UFC],” Martin continued. “What does representation look like in your mind, UFC? To say yes to every single thing that you do. Am I supposed to take you out to dinner, be your best friend? No, I have a fiduciary obligation to my client, and the facts are, okay, if you want to judge me and try to put me out of business for whatever reason and bully me publicly, I don’t respond to that. CAA doesn’t respond to that. We know how to do our job. We’re very competent at what we do.”
“Let me make this clear: It’s not all about money,” Martin continued. “It is 1000 percent not all about money, and they know that. But at the end of the day, the UFC has a business model, that’s how they run it with all their fighters. They can’t put themselves in a situation to establish a precedent that negatively reflects [on] them, so that’s kind of the rub. If they had an offer that made sense for them and for Francis, we’re open to entertain it. They’ve made it pretty clear where they’re at, so it’s unfortunate, and I hate to say this, but it feels like a standoff.”
Dana White has responded to Martin’s claims in the most Dana White way possible; “This dude is SO FULL OF SHIT!”
Ngannou has said in no uncertain terms that he is looking for a pay increase to remain with the UFC. Given his work inside the Octagon, Ngannou may be justified in his demand for more money.
What does the UFC heavyweight champion’s 2022 look like?
“The Predator” is 11-2 in his UFC career and has won his last five bouts, all by knockout. In those five fights, Ngannou was in the cage for a total of eight minutes and 34 seconds, most of which was during the UFC 260 bout against Stipe Miocic. Ngannou finished that fight 52 seconds into the second round to capture the UFC heavyweight championship.
Despite an impressive run littered with highlight-reel knockouts, the UFC has been, according to Martin and CAA, unwilling to budge on terms.
With UFC 270 less than a month away, there is little time for the UFC to come to terms with the reigning champion prior to his next defense. Should Ngannou successfully defend his title, he would likely remain under contract by way of a champions clause. If Gane emerges victorious, it’s possible Ngannou may seek other more lucrative offers.
Only time will tell.
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