Francis Ngannou is no longer the UFC heavyweight champion, and in fact is no longer in the UFC.
This is according to UFC President Dana White who confirmed on Saturday that Ngannou and the promotion could not reach an agreement on a new contract. He had previously fought for his deal at UFC 270.. White stated that Ngannou was officially an unpaid agent at the UFC and waived all rights to accept any other offer.
That means the now-former UFC champ is clear to sign with any other organization.
” “We offered Francis an agreement that would have made them the most highly paid heavyweights in company history,” White stated. White stated that Francis was offered a deal which would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight in company history. We get to this point where I’ve told you guys before, if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be here.
“I think Francis is in a place right now where he doesn’t want to take a lot of risk. [He] feels he’s in a good position where he could fight lesser opponents and make more money. So we’re going to let him do that.
” We’re going release him from the contract. He can travel wherever and do what he pleases. That’s .”
White said the UFC had been in talks with Ngannou on a new deal for the better part of the last two years but the two sides could never find a middle ground on contract terms.
Ngannou stated repeatedly that any deal he signed would need to allow him to pursue other interests. He had previously flirted with Tyson Fury, a heavyweight champion in boxing.
White stated that Ngannou was not compelled to leave because of Jon Jones as his next opponent.
” We did all we could to help him win and give him the fight. But, he knows that there are bigger chances outside of the UFC for lesser opponents.” White stated.
“You’re going to fight arguably the greatest fighter of all time. You’d be the highest paid heavyweight ever in heavyweight history, or you think there’s more money out there to fight somebody who isn’t the greatest of all time, somebody who is a lesser opponent. Francis will have to answer that question. But, in my view, is the right way .
White said the Ngannou release is one of only two times during his tenure with the UFC where he’s done everything possible to sign an athlete and yet still came up short.
“He’s the second guy that we couldn’t come to a deal with – now it’s him and Fedor [Emelianenko],” White said. We did all we could to convince him to accept the deal. I think [UFC COO] Hunter [Campbell] went to 350 dinners with him. We did what we could do. It didn’t turn out .”
With Ngannou out, the UFC moved quickly to book Jones vs. Gane, which takes place at UFC 285 on March 4 in Las Vegas. It is a fight for the vacant title of heavyweight.
“I think he doesn’t want to take the risk,” White said of Ngannou. “You’re going in against Jon Jones, the best of all time, and at the end of the day there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s just not what we do here. The best fight the best here.
“There are many places you could do this, so that is where he will end up. He’ll end up somewhere where somebody will throw some money at him, and he’s going to fight fights he thinks he can win.”
White indicated he has no regrets about the way the whole situation played out, even if it meant losing one of the most ferocious heavyweights in the history of the sport.
“Whatever his plans are, it’s been a lot of fun,” White stated about Ngannou. It’s all good. It’s all great .”