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UFC ‘sabotaging’ Francis Ngannou because ‘Predator’ refused to sign lowball contract extension

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Francis Ngannou captured the UFC heavyweight title in March but did not want to make his first title defense until September, forcing the promotion to create an interim strap in his absence. But “The Predator” insists there’s more to the story than just a lengthy “vacation.”

UFC 260: Miocic v Ngannou 2 Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White is not a fan of reigning heavyweight titleholder Francis Ngannou and their issues go back several years. Not that “The Predator” is the first division champ to feel disrespected by the promotion, but it seems like White and Co. go out of their way to make Ngannou look bad.

Why would a promoter actively discredit one of its top stars?

“I did not sign a new deal,” Ngannou revealed to The MMA Hour. “First of all, there is a champ clause and they’ve been trying to apply pressure with an extension, but I did not sign a new deal and I think that’s basically the issue. That’s what is causing all these issues because I don’t want to sign a new deal on certain terms. I don’t feel protected in those terms — in the past two years I fought twice and I have to borrow money to live. Nobody cares about that. I have no guarantee and I have no protection, so based on that experience I want to get something better, better terms on my contract, and obviously paid what I deserve.”

Ngannou, 35, has been vocal about his desire to get paid more for his efforts inside the cage after putting together one of the more impressive heavyweight runs in recent memory. But winning five straight — with all five victories coming by way of thunderous knockout — did not have much influence at the bargaining table.

So without a new deal to pin down its heavyweight champ, UFC chose to create an interim title and “sabotage” Ngannou in the process.

“What bothers me is the fact that to promote that fight they were trying to discredit me and pretend, ‘If you want to go on vacation, keep yourself and when you want to fight, we are here.’ No, I want to fight and I wasn’t on vacation,” Ngannou said. “And they use a video from ‘Embedded’ to play that game, to pretend to discredit me and show that I was on vacation. That bothers me because that’s not right. I know that is not true, it’s just to discredit me, to control the narrative. I don’t have a problem if they want to do the interim, just do the interim without sabotaging me.”

Ciryl Gane captured the substitute strap by stopping Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 last August in Houston and will attempt to unify the division titles by defeating Ngannou in the UFC 270 headliner this January in Las Vegas. And with his championship clause, Ngannou will automatically extend his current contract on a fight-by-fight basis until he loses.

“The UFC is a beautiful and nice promotion,” Ngannou continued. “I love being in the UFC. The only part that is challenging now is behind-the-scenes part. But fighting, I love it. That’s for sure, I love the promotion, that’s not questionable. I still hope that this works out. I still hope, I wish that it would work out. In the meantime, if it doesn’t work out, I can’t do anything.”