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Francis Ngannou backs Jake Paul in beef with the UFC

The UFC’s heavyweight champ likes a lot of what Jake Paul is putting down.

Francis Ngannou celebrating his win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.
Francis Ngannou celebrating his win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Jake Paul’s power as a top selling boxing attraction might be trending down. However, ‘The Problem Child’ is still a master at garnering attention.

With no new opponent seemingly on the horizon, the 5-0 pro boxer has set his sights on being a thorn in the side of UFC President Dana White. Paul seems to have deduced that the best way to get White rattled is by being a loud voice in favour of fighter rights.

Paul has been relentless in advocating for an increase in UFC pay as well as perks such as healthcare and retirement plans. Whether Paul is pushing this agenda for altruistic reasons or for attention is anyone’s guess.

Regardless of his motivation, Paul’s actions have gained him at least one influential fan — undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

On his YouTube channel Ngannou sung Paul’s praises and firmly endorsed a number of issues the influencer has put forth.

“I follow all those stuff and I am aware of what’s happening,” said Ngannou (ht sportskeeda). “You know Paul has his own way of communicating, which is a little bit different. Maybe not the same way as I will. But in the meantime, I can’t blame him. I’m 100 percent with him for what he says.”

“When he claimed for fighter healthcare, I am 100 percent down with that,” continued Ngannou. “He claimed for fighter pay increase, I’m a 1000 percent down for that. So the fighters are not protected, they are all out there on their own and nobody look up to them... They are putting their body on the line for something. At least [give them] healthcare.”

Ngannou returned to UFC action at UFC 270 recently. There he defeated Ciryl Gane to unify the UFC heavyweight title.

The fight with Gane came after months of manoeuvring by the UFC to ensure that Ngannou returned to the Octagon. Since winning the heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic in early 2021 the Cameroonian had stated his desire for a big money fight with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

The UFC did not want to pay for that match-up to happen, though. So they made an interim heavyweight belt, which Gane won. With an interim title out there, Ngannou faced the risk of being stripped of his belt (a bauble used ensure lucrative pay-per-view points) if he refused to give up his pursuit of a fight with Jones.

Since beating Gane, Ngannou has stated his desire to restructure his UFC contract to allow him to pursue a boxing match with Tyson Fury. Ngannou has claimed that, while trying to secure this improved deal, he has turned down UFC contract extensions worth around $7 million.