Francis Ngannou isn’t happy with how the UFC has portrayed him in his absence.
The reigning UFC heavyweight champion — and unanimous No. 1 heavyweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — is set for a unification bout with interim titleholder Ciryl Gane for UFC 270 on Jan. 22, but Ngannou’s intention wasn’t to be out of action for long after beating Stipe Miocic in March. He is particularly annoyed by the fact that in the build to Gane’s interim title fight with Derrick Lewis in August, UFC promos suggested that Ngannou would rather go on vacation than book his first title defense.
On The MMA Hour on Wednesday, Ngannou cleared the air on the situation, stating that he has no issue with Gane claiming a share of the heavyweight crown and that his problems lie solely with the UFC depicting him in a negative light to make the interim title fight seem more importa
“The only issue is how — because on my end, I know that was the way to apply pressure — it didn’t seem right,” Ngannou said of the marketing ahead of UFC 265. “I find it so awkward that it didn’t even bother me. I’m like, what’s going on? OK, let’s do it. What bothers me is the fact that to promote that fight they were trying to discredit me and pretend, ‘If you want to go on vacation, keep yourself and when you want to fight, we are here.’ No, I want to fight and I wasn’t on vacation. And they use a video from Embedded to play that game, to pretend to discredit me and show that I was on vacation.
“That bothers me because that’s not right. I know that is not true, it’s just to discredit me, to control the narrative. I don’t have a problem if they want to do the interim, just do the interim without sabotaging me.”
Making matters more confusing for Ngannou is the fact that he was looking to fight again before the end of the year, but was told that the major July and August events were already taken care of. A proposed June date was too early for Ngannou, both because he was still in the midst of sorting out visa issues that he had to leave the U.S. to deal with and because it was a relatively quick turnaround for a champion.
Ngannou became heavyweight champion in March with a spectacular knockout of Miocic and also wanted to have a little time to celebrate.
“Not to mention they have to give me at least time to maybe go home and introduce the belt for my people, for my country, for my family,” Ngannou said. “Why was the rush so bad? In the past two years I have fought twice and suddenly I have to defend my title after two months? What is the rush? What’s wrong? Why can’t I have the average time as everybody, three or four months?”
“I did not sign a new deal,” Ngannou said. “First of all, there is a champ clause and they’ve been trying to apply pressure with an extension, but I did not sign a new deal and I think that’s basically the issue. That’s what is causing all these issues because I don’t want to sign a new deal on certain terms.
“What doesn’t work for me, because I don’t feel protected in those terms — in the past two years I fought twice and I have to borrow money to live. Nobody cares about that. I have no guarantee and I have no protection, so based on that experience I want to get something better, better terms on my contract, and obviously paid what I deserve.”
Despite the less than ideal circumstances that Ngannou is currently competing under, when prompted he admitted that he would welcome sticking around with the UFC. Ngannou joined the promotion in 2015 and has since become one of its biggest stars, with highlight-reel wins over a who’s who of heavyweight greats.
“The UFC is a beautiful and nice promotion,” Ngannou said. “I love being in the UFC. The only part that is challenging now is behind-the-scenes part. But fighting, I love it. That’s for sure, I love the promotion, that’s not questionable. I still hope that this works out. I still hope, I wish that it would work out. In the meantime, if it doesn’t work out, I can’t do anything.”
Ngannou brings a five-fight win streak into his next fight and a loss would change his career options considerably, both because it would at least free him from a champions clause and possibly put a dent in his star power. Presumably, the UFC would be greatly interested in keeping the power-punching heavyweight around.
Should that be the case, Ngannou revealed that one thing he is looking for is proper recognition from the company, which in his opinion has been lacking as of late.
“Honestly, that’s not the feeling that I have,” Ngannou said when asked if he feels the UFC is committed to being in business with him. “I might be wrong, but I don’t feel that because in my opinion for right now, from what I’m seeing, the UFC is trying to discredit me. That’s what I know. And those promoting somebody cannot work together with discrediting him. You don’t do that to somebody that you want to promote.
“What do I look for?” Ngannou later added. “First of all, I look for some respect, that’s to start. Then I look to get stuff right, I look to feel like I’m respected, to feel like they care at least. That’s it. I never asked for anything more than that. That would be enough for me. … I gained the position that I am at. I wasn’t nominated, I wasn’t assigned to be here, I earned it. So that means I deserve a little bit of respect, just a little bit. I’m not a big deal, just a little famous, that’s it. (Laughs).”
Just fight bro. No more stupid ass contract BS. You’re not gonna be a boxer. You’ll get knocked out badly. Stick to mma big man
He is gonna fight, in January…this is an interview, so he is talking
Remember, Stipe was also outspoken about the way Dana handled himself.
Yeah and stipe also became an annoying bastard as soon as he started crying
I liked stipe. He became annoying so I stopped liking him. I liked Francis after he won. Then he started becoming annoying as fuck with his contract demands so now I don’t like him and I hope Ciryl knocks him out he seems far more likable
Just get Ngannou out of here. He’s a whiny little ungrateful bitch.
Sure “get him out of here” and totally see-legitimize the most coveted belt in all of combat sports!
I’d rather see him defend and destroy and demand some more.
Promotions AWAYS MAKE FIGHTERS LOOK GOOD OR BAD TO SUIT THE NEEDS OF THE PROMOTION.
What is it with HW Champs being such whiny bastards
Good lord. Just fucking fight. This guy is in the prime of his fighting career and he wants to bellyache. He became a massive diva the minute he became the champion. And his manager Marquell isn’t helping his case at all.
I hope Gane gives him a reality check the way Stipe did in their first fight.
weird that all these fighters keep having issues with dana
Didn’t Ngannou make like $800k in his last fight? Even after taxes and trainer fees that’s a good chunk of change and way more than most people live on.
Why the hell does he need to borrow money? Someone buy this moron a Dave Ramsey book or some shit so he learns to manage his money.
Stipe is a drama queen, Francis is as well and has a girls name.
He can kill me with a finger, his name is still Francis
I simply don’t see why the UFC would do this. Francis is a legit African champion, who has an amazing back story and a stone cold, one punch killer. He should be a fucking gold mine.