Francis Ngannou stuck to his guns.
The world’s hardest puncher has officially been stripped of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight crown and parted ways with the promotion after failing to reach an agreement on a new deal. The hope was to pair Ngannou with former Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, for “Bones” divisional debut. That honor will instead go to Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 on March 4, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ngannou’s future is uncertain at present, however, “The Predator” revealed on The MMA Hour today (Tues., Jan 17, 2023) that he’s aiming to have two fights this year starting in July. Possibilities are currently being worked on for Ngannou, and his gut feeling is that he’ll get his long-desired professional boxing match. Despite his mother recently caught seen wearing a Professional Fighters League (PFL) t-shirt, Ngannou explained that it was purely a coincidence. He noted that competing in the organization is an option, though.
During UFC President, Dana White’s, announcement of the news this past weekend (Jan. 14, 2023), one of the highlights that stood out was White’s claim that they offered Ngannou a deal that would make him the “highest-paid Heavyweight” in promotional history. Ngannou shared that the offer was “around” $8 million — similar to Brock Lesnar at his peak. Jones’ manager, Richard Schaefer, shared yesterday (Mon., Jan. 16, 2023) that the deal wound up going to his client.
“I asked for three fights, no extension,” Ngannou said. “One was Jon Jones, two was Stipe [Miocic], hopefully, Jon Jones again. Out of those three fights, I hoped two were Jon Jones.”
With his heart set on boxing, Ngannou reiterated that it was a sticking point that he be allowed to compete in the ring. The promotion wanted nothing to do with it.
White also expressed over the weekend how he felt Ngannou may no longer want to face the toughest competition after seeing what it’s like to be on top of the mountain. For the now-former champion, he isn’t offended by the claims.
“Dana is Dana,” Ngannou said. “I don’t care about what he says. Dana cannot hurt me. From where I come from, I have heard a lot worse than that, and I’m still here. ... What I know is that I’m here, and I have a good future.
“He’s upset. He’s not happy about this situation,” he concluded. “He saw his champion go away, which is something that probably never happened.”
Ultimately, Ngannou’s moral compass led him to fight for his fellow fighters. Admitting he knew such requests involving better pay and insurance wouldn’t be possible, he at least felt the need to try.
“At this point, health insurance for me is not a problem, but how about the guys at the bottom,” Ngannou said. “They can’t really afford health insurance. And I have been there, so it’s something I carry in my heart.
“I know that I did everything right,” he concluded. “I don’t have any regrets. I wouldn’t do anything different if I had to do it again.”