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Francis Ngannou passes on UFC deal due to standard contract

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion explains reasons for departure and plans for future as a free agent

Francis Ngannou, former UFC heavyweight champion, has revealed in an interview on The MMA Hour that the standard UFC contract was the reason he passed on the deal offered by the promotion. Ngannou was seeking a new three-fight contract that he expected to finish in one year before turning to professional boxing. He estimated that the new deal would pay him “around” $8 million to fight Jon Jones at UFC 285, and expected to complete a trilogy with Stipe Miocic and rematch Jones before moving on to professional boxing. However, Ngannou felt that the standard UFC contract left him without any leverage in future negotiations and did not allow for him to pursue his interests in boxing.

Ngannou stated that, “In that contract, I’m not free. I’m not an independent contractor. I have no rights. I hand over all the power to you guys. I’ve seen in the past how you guys can utilize your power against me, and I don’t want that.” He also revealed that the UFC had no interest in his desire to box, “They were like, if, and only if, and in good faith, and I’m like, I’m not betting on that.”

Ngannou also discussed his desire for certain concessions that went above and beyond the UFC’s standard deal, such as permission to solicit outside sponsors, health insurance and a fighter advocate at the promotion’s negotiating table. He explained, “I just wanted them to know it was something I did want, and consider it. They said no, they don’t know business like that.” Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of health insurance for fighters, particularly for those at the bottom, “They can’t really afford health insurance. And I have been there, so it’s something I carry in my heart.”

Despite his departure from the UFC, Ngannou is determined that he made the right choice and does not rule out a possible return to the promotion, but only under his terms. He has now become one of the most valuable free agents in MMA history.

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