This past Saturday at UFC 270, we saw a heavyweight title unification bout between Francis Ngannou (17-3) and Ciryl Gane (10-1). The fight had an interesting backstory with both men having trained together in the past and Gane’s head coach used to be Ngannou’s.
However, that wasn’t the most compelling backstory heading into UFC 270. The most compelling part was the fact that Ngannou was fighting the final fight of his contract. It was incredibly compelling because normally, free agency isn’t this open when it comes to champions and the UFC.
Most of the time, fighters are resigned before reaching this point. However, Ngannou’s representation has remained firm in their requests and Ngannou has not budged. Today, we learned a little more regarding the contract situation between Ngannou and the UFC.
The heavyweight champion defeated Ciryl Gane on Saturday to retain his title and now he’s locked in a champion’s clause. That clause will keep him with the UFC for the rest of the year. In addition to that, we learned that the promotion has tried to extend Ngannou.
Uncertainty between UFC and Ngannou
On the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Ngannou said that the UFC has offered him extensions, but he walked away because it wasn’t just about money. Ngannou made $600,000 guaranteed for his victory at UFC 270. However, between Saturday and his win against Stipe Miocic, Ngannou said that he’s left over $7 million on the table.
Dana White didn’t wrap the title around the waste of Ngannou on Saturday and he wasn’t at the post-fight press conference. While there is no publicly known reason as to why, the media has run with the narrative that White is being petty.
In my opinion, the UFC definitely wants to be in the Francis Ngannou business. He’s the ideal heavyweight champion. However, it’s clear that Ngannou and his camp want things that the promotion is not willing to sign off on.
I think we are in for a very long negotiation and honestly, there’s time. Ngannou is going to have knee surgery which will likely keep him out most of if not all of this year. During that time, I expect there to be negotiations between the sides.
For all parties involved, I hope a deal gets done and I think one will eventually get done. However, there’s a long ways to go and there’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment.