Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou wanted more money to continue fighting inside the Octagon, especially when it came to a headlining showdown against ex-light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones. “The Predator” also wanted a new contract that afforded him the opportunity to compete in outside endeavors, like boxing.
Something promotions like PFL and Bellator MMA already allow.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, UFC President Dana White was unwilling to budge on either demand, though his official explanation is that Ngannou was looking for less risk in 2023. Either way, the French Cameroonian is no longer part of the active UFC roster and is now free to compete wherever his heart — and bank account — desire.
Jake Paul, a vocal critic of UFC business practices, was quick to chime in.
“Francis Ngannou is the baddest man on the planet and is a free agent because he chose to be,” Paul wrote on Twitter. “He’s the heavyweight champ in MMA and will be until he loses. They are not happy about this. But it’s reality and they have to deal with it. They have to live with that everyday.”
Not surprisingly, Ngannou is already being courted by rival promotions.
No word yet on where Ngannou will land but it’s important to note “The Predator” (17-3) turns 37 later this year, so the clock is definitely ticking. Depending on how quickly the former champ recovers from knee surgery is likely to dictate his return timeline, currently projected for either late spring or early summer.