If you were to make a bet on whether Francis Ngannou fights in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) next, would you take it?
UFC’s Heavyweight champion made it clear throughout fight week that he felt disrespected and underpaid. And when UFC President, Dana White, didn’t show up after Ngannou’s win over Cyril Gane at UFC 270 to put the belt around his champ or talk at the post-fight press conference, that was just a continuation of that lack of respect.
There were other messed up stories that came out after, like how UFC threatened to sue Ngannou’s manager on fight day. The clear message being sent here is don’t expect Dana White or UFC to pretend everything’s okay if you decide you want to part ways. That’s been quite visible for those who have followed this sport over the past 15 years, and apparently it’s still a lesson new arrivals to the sport like Sean O’Malley are picking up on, too.
“I think, dude, if you’re going to go out there and just talk s—t about the boss and the company, you can’t just expect no backlash, right?” O’Malley said in a recent YouTube video. “It makes sense that Dana is running a business, and his Heavyweight champion, the one who is the main f—king champ, the baddest dude on planet earth, is just every interview he gets, talking s—t.”
“And I don’t want to say talking s—t in a bad way,” O’Malley added. “I guess he is just talking facts. But, it is talking s—t, and you can’t do that to UFC. You can’t do that to Dana. You can’t do that to your boss. You can, but now Ngannou is not in a great position. Imagine he’s the heavyweight champion of the world, him and Dana have a great relationship. I bet there’s leeway there to make some negotiations, but now it’s not happening.”
O’Malley knows a little bit about talking s—t and getting hit by the disapproval of UFC brass. Back in Aug. 2021, UFC matchmakers tried to force him to accept a fight on a date his coach was unavailable. He turned down the date, and then got cold shouldered over the situation. He then went on his podcast and said he was being treated “like a piece of s—t” by UFC, which just steamed their hams even more. Things got resolved, but it’s just one of those rubs that could mysteriously derail an up-and-coming UFC fighter’s career.
This is a kid who is head and shoulders above 90 percent of the rest of UFC’s roster and he understands exactly how important it is not to rock the boat with the promotion and not to get into fights with company President, Dana White. He’s trying to walk a fine line, refusing ranked opponents as he continues to be underpaid on a Dana White’s Contender Series contract. That’s the “leeway” he’s been allowed: at this point he can turn down fights because UFC isn’t paying him enough, and he’s actually one of the lucky few capable of doing that.
For now, at least ...
We wouldn’t be surprised if O’Malley ends up in a similar position to Nagannou when contract negotiations come around and UFC decides he’s either too demanding or too difficult to negotiate with.