After a year of uncertainty following his victory over Ciryl Gane last January at UFC 270, which activated the champions clause and extended his stay in the organization, Ngannou has been stripped of the heavyweight title and entered unrestricted free agency.
This past weekend, UFC President Dana White revealed that “The Predator” had turned down an offer he claimed would have made him the highest paid heavyweight of all time. With that, the promotion will move forward without Ngannou and has even waived its right to match any opposition offer.
Even prior to his successful defense opposite “Bon Gamin,” Ngannou had made his grievances with the contract he was tied to clear. More than just finances, the Cameroon native expressed a keen desire to box, noting freedom to do so as a crucial component in any new deal.
Having claimed he was willing to do “whatever it takes” to get what he wants, Ngannou has put his money where his mouth is by committing to life outside the Octagon.
And according to one heavyweight champion across the globe, Ngannou deserves praise for sticking to his principles.
Bhullar Supports Ngannou’s Resolve
While Ngannou was in a lengthy dispute with the UFC, Arjan Bhullar was in a similar situation under the ONE Championship banner. After winning the heavyweight title with a knockout victory over Brandon Vera in 2021, the Indo-Canadian champ got into a back and forth with the Asian organization that lasted the best part of a year.
While, for Ngannou, the freedom to box outside the promotion provided the stumbling block, it was a desire to venture to professional wrestling that halted Bhullar and ONE’s negotiations.
Ultimately, Bhullar agreed what he described as a “one of a kind” deal with ONE that will allow him to explore the world of pro wrestling while under contract. Still, having gone through a similar situation, “Singh” praised Ngannou on Twitter for not wavering in his demands.
“Good to see a fighter stick by his principles,” Bhullar wrote. “Francis Ngannou vs Tyson Fury Bareknuckle is the fight. Gypsy style. In Africa. I would pay whatever they asked for that PPV.”
In reply to one fan who suggested that Ngannou has damaged his leverage by not facing Jon Jones, who is set to collide with Ciryl Gane at UFC 285, Bhullar dismissed the claim, noting that escaping a “restrictive” contract is ultimately what mattered.
“Increased leverage? How? He’s a free agent now. There’s no leverage any other way. He doesn’t believe in the restrictive contracts. Always wanted to box. Those principles.”
While announcing Ngannou’s departure, White suggested that “The Predator” was looking to avoid risk by fighting lesser opponents outside of the UFC. That marks a similar narrative to one put forth by ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong regarding Bhullar.
Having still not fought since agreeing a new deal last year, with injury forcing him out of a planned showdown with interim titleholder Anataly Malykhin last September, Sityodtong recently went as far as to brand Bhullar’s inactivity as the result of him being “scared.”
“Singh” will look to prove his employer wrong when he finally meets Malykhin in a unification clash at ONE Fight Night 8 on March 25.
Do you agree with Arjan Bhullar’s take on Francis Ngannou’s contractual stance?