Francis Ngannou reacts to UFC release: “I was willing to compromise over and over”

Francis Ngannou, The MMA Hour, Ariel Hewlani
Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was a guest on The MMA Hour where he spoke about his departure from the UFC. 

Last Saturday, a heavyweight title fight graphic between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane was accidentally leaked at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It led many people to speculate whether Ngannou was simply stripped of the heavyweight title or had left the UFC entirely. 

After UFC Fight Night 217, UFC President Dana White confirmed Ngannou’s release from the company. White explained that both sides couldn’t agree to a new fight contract. He went on to say that the UFC offered him a deal that would’ve made him the highest paid heavyweight in the company’s history. He also said that he believed Ngannou wanted to fight “lesser opponents and make more money”.

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Ngannou was ultimately stripped of the heavyweight title. He spoke with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Hewlani about his negotiations and sudden exit from the UFC. He revealed that he asked for the right to sponsorships, health insurance, and an advocate in board meetings for all fighters. He said the UFC was unwilling to consider his requests. 

I really wish that we [could’ve found] a way to work out. I’ve been in the UFC for the past seven years and I always saw myself in the UFC. I never envisioned myself out of the UFC,” Ngannou said. “I was willing to compromise over and over and over and over.”

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The 36-year-old said he asked for a three-fight deal with no extension. He hoped he would’ve fought Jon Jones twice and Stipe Miocic

Ngannou went on to admit that he watched a part of Dana White’s recent press conference and believed it was “bulls**t”. He didn’t know if a new deal would’ve actually made him the highest paid heavyweight in the company’s history because fighter pay isn’t known publicly. 

Dana [White] can not hurt me. Saying things cannot hurt me. From where I come from, I have heard a lot worse than that and yet I’m still here.” 

Francis Ngannou Had Gained Interest From Several Promotions

Ngannou had been vocal about wanting improved benefits during negotiations with the UFC. He will now get a chance to test the free agent market. Several other MMA organizations, including the PFL, Bellator and BKFC have shown interest in the heavyweight star. It’s also important to note that Ngannou expressed interest in a move to boxing. He named Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua as ideal opponents for his boxing debut. 

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Now, the Cameroon native is free to make any decision about his future. 

I need some respect, some dignity. I need some freedom. I need to feel like a man [and] own my freedom, control my destiny, decide what I’m going to do. I don’t want anybody to decide for me… So far, I think I haven’t been doing a bad job at all.”