Well, former UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou (17-3) has one less suitor as of this morning. Last week, it was reported that ONE Championship would be meeting with Ngannou over the weekend and a final offer would be submitted to the former heavyweight champ.
ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong sounded optimistic in his interview with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour last Wednesday. Chatri talked about the competition level with ONE and it just felt like things were trending in a really positive direction for the promotion.
Ngannou himself recently revealed that he was narrowing his choices down to ONE Championship and the PFL. The UFC bowed out earlier this year after their talks fell apart. Bellator was priced out of the talks and BKFC said that Ngannou was being “Unrealistic” with his requests.
Chatri met with Ngannou on Saturday he told the South China Morning Post. Regarding the meeting, Chatri said, “I met with Francis yesterday (Saturday) for almost 3 hours. ONE has decided to withdraw from the process of bidding for Francis Ngannou’s services. After careful reflection, we decided not to submit our final offer. Francis is a good guy and a good champion. I wish him continued success and happiness. At the end of the day, I didn’t feel Francis and I were fully aligned on non-financial matters. It is nothing personal. It is just a lack of alignment.”
ONE Championship walks away
Francis Ngannou is a man of principle and he was fighting for more than money with the UFC. The UFC was willing to go beyond Ngannou’s request when it came to dollars, but they wouldn’t budge on items that Ngannou wanted for his fellow fighters.
Ngannou’s free agency started at the end of January and every promotion jumped in. However, one by one, they’ve all bowed out after not being able to agree to terms with Ngannou. It would appear that there’s only one choice left on the table, but all of Ngannou’s negotiating power is gone.
PFL remains engaged after ONE Championship bowed out. However, with no other promotion pushing them to increase their offer, Ngannou finds himself in a really tough spot. Time will tell how this all shakes out, but you have to imagine that this is not what Ngannou thought would happen when he hit the open market.