UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou‘s quarrels with the promotion started to ramp up even before he earned a UFC belt.
Ngannou hasn’t fought since a win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 at the beginning of the year. He underwent knee surgery after the victory and is expected to return next year to defend his title.
Ngannou’s rise to stardom was anything but clean. Despite a series of brutal knockouts and impressive highlights, his relationship with UFC President Dana White has been complicated, to put it mildly.
After earning the title over Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, Ngannou initiated contract negotiations with the promotion. He’s been repeatedly critical of UFC fighter pay and benefits that the roster receives for their efforts.
While negotiations between Ngannou and the UFC seem to be taking a positive turn, tensions between the two sides began after his first fight with Miocic at UFC 220.
During a recent video posted to his YouTube channel, Ngannou explained how the aftermath of his first fight with Miocic destabilized his relationship with the UFC.
“This situation with the UFC started a long time ago, way longer than people realized,” Ngannou said. “I was silent and they were trying to control the narrative and then manipulate people’s perspective, people’s opinion about it. And then I was just a bad guy, a guy who didn’t want to fight.
“And then you make me look like the bad guy, and I’m not. I just wanted what was best for me and you should understand that, because you guys want what’s best for you.”
After Miocic defeated Ngannou via a unanimous decision, White accused Ngannou of having a huge ego, which impacted his performance. He cited personal interactions with Ngannou as the reason for feeling the eventual heavyweight champion had an ego issue.
White and the UFC considered cutting ties with Ngannou following his loss to Derrick Lewis a fight later at UFC 226. Luckily, they didn’t follow though, and he’s won six straight fights.
Ngannou used White’s comments as motivation and intends to use the prolonged negotiations as extra fire. As he gets ready for a potential super fight against Jon Jones, Ngannou is still reflecting on his shaky ground with the UFC.
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