Francis Ngannou discusses breakdown with Dana White and calls White’s accusation of ‘ego’ a ‘pretext’


Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou believes his fallout with UFC President Dana White stems from his desire to control his contract.

Five years before he ran out his UFC deal to become the sport’s highest-profile free agent, Ngannou said he was preparing to fight for the UFC belt against Stipe Miocic when he clashed with White.

“It happened before the Stipe fight because I negotiated,” Ngannou stated Tuesday at The MMA Hour . My last contract was signed at that time. It took me almost three years to figure out what was the problem, but I think the problem was because during negotiations, I said something to Dana White.

” I made a complete [made a] error. I didn’t know what I meant at that time, but I think he felt threatened by that when I said, ‘Doesn’t matter, we can make a deal for this fight, we just focus on the Stipe fight,’ because I was making that deal like six weeks before the fight, and they were pushing me, and I didn’t even have time to find a manager. After that, I was like “OK, I can do it myself.” Then, as he sat there, I said, “Let’s focus on this fight.” After every fight .’

, we can negotiate.

“I think that was the thing that I said to Dana, and you shouldn’t say something like that to somebody like Dana White.”

When they met for the first time, Ngannou stated that he spoke up about himself in a manner White found charming. But when he referenced their first interaction later as contract negotiations stalled, White had reinterpreted his behavior.

“I first met Dana in Denver with [the Andrei] Arlovski [fight in 2017],” Ngannou said. I couldn’t speak English at all. Dana understood that I couldn’t speak English well.

“So when I was going to fight Stipe, I think on the fight week, I saw him, but he was already pissed. I didn’t know that, but he was already pissed. Then, I told him, “Get that jet ready my man,” which was what we discussed. That was my promise.

“So when you say, [you mean] ‘Get that jet ready’ – get that jet that we talked about. I don’t see any ego in that. This couldn’t possibly be a problem. This was not a problem. This was an excuse

Ngannou lost his title shot against Miocic. He was smothered in wrestling by the reigning champ. He then lost to Derrick Lewis in an action-free snoozer that White immediately panned. One of the UFC executives’ criticisms was that Ngannou had let his ego get out of control.

Ngannou said he did his best to understand what had gone wrong with White, gathering as much information as he could to figure out his role in the deteriorating partnership. Eventually, though, he boiled it down to his contract demand.

” I ignored it, but didn’t realize what had happened. Then, when time goes by, I have some information. They told me about Dana’s anger at me and the reasons he made. Hunter also shared his thoughts. After a while, I gathered all of the data, which was the only possible cause.

“Because I tried, for the next two years, I tried to figure out what really happened. I felt really bad, like, ‘OK, I’m mistaken somewhere, I did something wrong.’ I tried to figure it out. I was frantic until I found out what it was. I was busting my head for nothing until I found out exactly what it was.”

As his 2017 contract neared its end – the result of a five-year sunset clause inserted into UFC contracts amid an ongoing anti-trust lawsuit – there would be no confusion over the promotion’s unhappiness with its heavyweight champ. Ngannou said the UFC simply wanted him to sign the deal it wanted, and wasn’t willing to entertain any other concessions.

Ngannou said after fulfilling the final bout of his 2017 contract by defending the belt against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, he had one more in-person meeting with White. He requested dinner with Eric Nicksick’s coach after the UFC president skipped the postfight press conference.

Ngannou listened to White’s pitch.

” They were trying to convince me they want me to go to the UFC, and that I should stay there,” Ngannou stated. “And I said, ‘I want to stay in the UFC. But I don’t feel like the UFC wants me any more.’

” It’s been quite some time since I haven’t had a promoter. Although I am in promotion, I do not have a promoter. I’ve been feeling that for the past three or four years. I don’t have a promoter.”

If the UFC wanted him, Ngannou said the promotion could have offered at least some of the concessions he sought – an option for boxing, health insurance, a fighter advocate at the negotiating table, or the ability to seek his own sponsors he could wear into the cage. Instead, he said he got a take-it-or-leave-it response. It was then that the rest of history began.

White made a few thinly disguised insults to Ngannou when he announced that “The Predator”, had been freed from contract and taken off the belt. Ngannou didn’t yet write of a UFC comeback.

“Personally, I don’t take any of this personal,” Ngannou said. “I believe I am at a place in my life that I feel cool. Everything is okay. It has been a great experience. One thing I have also learned is never say never. Maybe down the road, I have a boxing match, and maybe it goes well or not, but I know that even in that situation, it has to be in my own terms.”