UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is set to spend the rest of 2022 if he beats Ciryl Gane and cannot come to terms with his promoter on a new contract that will increase his salary and allow him to box.
Ngannou told ESPN.com on Thursday that he believed he had fulfilled his current contract with the UFC when he faced interim champion Ciryl Gane in a title unifier at UFC 270 on January 22. But he also acknowledges that a champion’s clause could delay his next move no matter what.
The only thing that is certain is that things need to change.
“No, I won’t fight for $ 500,000 anymore, $ 600,000 more,” Ngannou said when asked if he would fight under the terms of an extended contract with the UFC. “I mean, it’s over. It’s finish. I just did that. I took this fight for a personal reason, and I want to make sure that whatever it is, no matter how unfair I was treated badly, I can make my case to say that I have completed all eight fights. But no.”
Ngannou said he signed a deal with the UFC in December 2017 – ahead of his first heavyweight title shot in a fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 – which had a five-year term. However, he said the champion clause in his contract also states that if he holds the title when it expires, he will be linked with promotion for a year or three fights.
“All of this makes me think it’s optional,” Ngannou said.
Ngannou did not seem clear on his status given the overall length of the contract and the champion’s clause, claiming at one point that he would not be under contract until January 2023 “because the UFC’s overall contract of start to finish, he can’t go five years. ”
“The UFC contract is very delicate,” he said. “That’s why you sign [a 40-month] contract and you find yourself after four years still dealing with that, even though you’ve been active.
Standard UFC contracts usually include a “toll” provision which also allows the promotion to extend them for six months in the event a fighter is unable to accept an offered fight due to a injury or other circumstances. Earlier this year, Ngannou turned down a title fight with Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 due to scheduling conflicts. The UFC then promoted an interim title fight between Gane, his former training partner, and Lewis.
Ngannou manager Marquel Martin, whose CAA agency is a direct competitor to UFC parent company Endeavor, told ESPN that negotiations have not resumed on a new deal. Martin recently said he hasn’t spoken to the promotion for six months despite wanting to strike a new deal.
UFC President Dana White played down the conflict and said it was up to Ngannou to stay or not.
“If you want to be with us, we would love to have you,” he said. “If you don’t want to be with us, that’s fine. All good.”
Ngannou was not too encouraged by these words. He said any new deal he makes must include a boxing option. He and heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury recently touched on a possible fight, and Fury promoter Top Rank has welcomed the idea of a crossover event.
“We’ve been having this discussion for over a year, and it seems they agree,” Ngannou said of the UFC’s stance on boxing. “When the UFC gets involved, it will only make it bigger. So yeah, if I want to box, I would like the UFC to be involved.
But, he added, he didn’t know what to make of the promotion’s current level of interest.
“Sometimes I can say yes, sometimes I don’t know,” he said.
A result at UFC 270 would certainly bring clarity to Ngannou’s status: a loss to Gane. At this point, he would be subject to an exclusive negotiation period with the UFC, typically 90 days, followed by a period in which other promoters could make offers with the UFC, given the opportunity to match them. .
Whatever happens, Ngannou refuted the idea that he was taking a gamble on his career and said a loss would not define his legacy.
“Let’s say something very clear,” he said. “The reason I’m here is because I earned it. Nobody gave me anything. So I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’m sure I will. I will continue to do so. I want to win this fight, but if I lose it’s okay. I don’t think it takes anything away from me as a man. I have done a lot as a man.
“Even if that was the end, well, I’ll say I did. Few people in their life, even those with better opportunities than me, can tell the same story as I do. I am happy where I am.
Check out Ngannou’s full interview below.