Francis Ngannou departed UFC earlier this year after the promotion failed to meet his contract demands. “The Predator” wanted to have more control over his combat sports career (for outside endeavors like this) and expected to be paid handsomely as the top heavyweight in all of MMA.
Other UFC fighters talked the talk but Ngannou walked the walk.
Unfortunately for the power-punching Cameroonian, the options outside of UFC are limited to a handful of fight promotions. And it sounds like the top name in the bareknuckle boxing arena doesn’t have the capital to get pen to paper, based on these comments from BKFC head cheese David Feldman.
“There are not a lot of (opponent options),” former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen told MMA Junkie. “If we’re playing chess here, I don’t have two or three steps for Francis. I don’t know how old Francis is. He says he’s 36. He’s at least 36. I don’t know how old he is. I’m not sure he knows how old he is. I don’t bring that up to try to be funny. His body has already given out on him. He’s already telling somebody, ‘I’m on the free market. Bid a whole bunch of money for me. By the way, I’ve got a bad knee.’ Nobody in the world… no coach looks at a guy who is hurt and old and pays him a bigger check. It’s a really weird situation. I want him to get it figured out. I don’t say it to tease him. Time is ticking. Everyday he’s not signed, he’s losing.”
Ngannou, who turns 37 in September, had reconstructive knee surgery after suffering an injury ahead of his Ciryl Gane title defense at UFC 270 in early 2022. “The Predator” also faced accusations of behaving like an egomaniac behind the scenes, from his former coach as well as UFC President Dana White.
“Let me put this in perspective for you: this is a very big deal,” Sonnen continued. “Three days ago was April 1 and they put out an April 1 joke. Tyson Fury put out an April 1 joke on social media that he and Francis was done and they are fighting in Wembley on May 15. Tyson Fury made a joke. Francis has changed his whole life. His whole life is different because he thought he was going to make up a sport and do it with a guy who is now using it as an April Fool’s joke. What ever has happened here? He’s got to get some cold water. He has to wake up and he needs to call back his boss.”
That call may go unanswered after White declared he was done with Ngannou ... forever.
The good news for Ngannou is that negotiations remain “all positive” with Professional Fighters League (PFL), no stranger to scooping up former UFC heavyweight champions. “The Predator” would undoubtedly make a huge impact on the promotion’s new pay-per-view (PPV) business and PFL already has a boxing clause for its top fighters.
“We’ve had a few meetings with Francis and those discussions are still going on,” PFL President Ray Sefo told MMA Junkie. “Obviously, there’s a few other things he also wants to pursue which is boxing and he knows where we stand with it too so, you know, it’s all positive should I say, right? To be quite honest, I would love to have him in the season but again, it’s no surprise he’s a pay-per-view kind of guy, and so I think that’s kind of up to him where we go with that. But listen, if he decides that he wants to be in the season, I’d love to have him in the season.”
He better move fast since the first round of the PFL 2023 heavyweight season gets underway this Friday (April 7) in Las Vegas.