The drama surrounding Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, just got a whole lot deeper. As if fighting with a busted knee against an undefeated interim champion wasn’t hard enough, it seems “The Predator” had a lot on his mind ahead of UFC 270.
During a recent interview on The MMA Hour, Ngannou revealed that the promotion sent his manager, Marquel Martin, an email on their way to the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., for his title unification bout against Ciryl Gane — whom he defeated via unanimous decision — threatening him with a lawsuit.
The reason: For an alleged conversation Martin had with Jake Paul’s manager, Nakisa Bidarian, about potential boxing opportunities.
“Going into this fight, going into the arena, I put on my suit and I walked into the room waiting for my manager and my coach they were like, ‘Wow!’” Ngannou explained. “And I asked them what was going on and they told me that they just received an email from the UFC saying they were going to sue him for talking to this guy named Nakisa.
“So I asked who this guy was, and they said they didn’t know him too much, but that he was from Jake Paul’s team,” he continued. “I asked if it was the promoter and they said, ‘No.’ But, once again I don’t know. It doesn’t look like they want to talk to me anymore.”
Bidarian is an ex-UFC executive whom White is not too fond of, branding him a former “accountant” even though he held the role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) back in 2016. Furthermore, White has been very vocal about the disdain he has toward Ngannou’s management team, blaming them for a lot of the issues surrounding the two sides. Per the report, neither Martin nor Bidiarian were available for comment.
For his part, Ngannou says he has no clue who Bidarian is and has never met or talked to him before.
This is just the latest hiccup in a relationship between promoter and champion that is strained to what some may feel is beyond repair. Ngannou also recently revealed that he has left a lot of money on the table because contract offers received from UFC to extend his tenure were “one-sided” and didn’t meet a lot of his demands.
For now, Ngannou plans to sit out for a year to let his contract expire, which was automatically extended after his championship win for three fights or a period of a year. In doing so, Ngannou hopes to be free from UFC and explore big-money fights in the boxing world.
That said, the hard-hitting big man is still open to hearing more offers from the promotion officials to give them a chance to “make things right.” On the flip side, Ngannou says if this is the end of his UFC run he will be at peace with that, too.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 270: “Ngannou vs. Gane” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.