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‘I asked for a 3-fight deal, no extension’ - Francis Ngannou on UFC split

The former UFC heavyweight champion had some very precise requests for re-signing with the world’s largest MMA promotion, especially when it came to his longterm future.

Francis Ngannou poses for the crowd ahead of his title fight at UFC 270.
Francis Ngannou poses for the crowd ahead of his title fight at UFC 270.
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

If Power Slap boss Dana White were to be believed, Francis Ngannou just didn’t want to fight tough fights anymore, that’s why he left the UFC. “[Ngannou] feels he’s in a good position where he could fight lesser opponents and make more money,” the UFC president told reporters following UFC Vegas 67: Strickland vs. Imavov.

Of course, the Cameroonian-born Frenchman would have a lot to say about that narrative for himself. In a recent interview on the MMA Hour, the ‘Predator’ gave his side of the story, and let fans know just what it was he was looking for out of a new deal with the UFC. From the sound of things, it didn’t have a whole lot to do with levels of competition.

“I asked for three fights. No extension,” Ngannou said of his dealings with the world’s largest MMA promotion.

“One was Jon Jones, two was Stipe—hopefully Jon Jones again. Out of that three fights, I hoped two was Jon Jones.”

“Well, there was a lot of them,” Ngannou admitted, when asked what the other sticking points were in his contract negotiations with the UFC. “What I have learned is that you don’t go to the table in negotiations expecting to get everything that you want. But at least you want your partner—you want the other side to show a willingness, or at least try.

“So, I asked for a lot of things. Which doesn’t mean I was expecting all those things. But I was expecting at least one or two out of those things. I asked for sponsorship, the right of a sponsorship, which we’ve been rid of—we can’t have sponsorship. I asked for health insurance, couldn’t have it. I asked for a fighter advocate, somebody in the board meetings who advocates for the fighters. I asked for that. I couldn’t have those stuff, that I asked for. But, I just want them to know that there is something that I do want. And I also want them to take that at least in consideration.”

“They say, ‘No, we don’t do business like that,’ Ngannou recalled. “They say, ‘Yes, [you] can pay your health insurance?’ and all that. I’m like, ‘Yes, I can pay my health insurance. At this point health insurance for me is not a problem. But, how about those guys that are at the bottom? Make $10k + $10k or, lost the fight, made $10k? They can’t really afford that health insurance.’ And I have been there. So, it’s something that I still carry in my heart.”

“I knew it couldn’t happen, but I asked.”

As a result of those failed negotiations, the 36-year-old Francis Ngannou is one of the most prominent fighters to hit the free agency market from the UFC in at least the last decade. Whether that lands him a deal for a high profile boxing bout, or potential a contract with the PFL or other MMA organization still remains to be seen. Ngannou even admitted that he could see a potential reconciliation with the UFC some day.

About the author: Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. Host of the MMA Vivisection and 6th Round, he has covered MMA and the UFC since 2013. (full bio)