The UFC’s heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, is no longer in the organisation.
According to UFC President Dana White, Francis Ngannou’s last contract was up when he defeated Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, and the company was unable to reach an agreement with him on a new one. Francis Ngannou is now a free agent as a result, according to White, and the UFC has waived all rights to match any competing offers.
The former UFC champion is now free to sign with any other company, so to speak.
White claimed that the UFC and Francis Ngannou had been negotiating a new contract for the better part of the last two years, but the parties were never able to come to an agreement on the terms.
Francis Ngannou released from his UFC contract. Jones/Gane for the HW championship at UFC 285.#UFC pic.twitter.com/1Omh505Tmj
— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) January 15, 2023
“We offered Francis a deal that would have made him the highest paid heavyweight in the history of the company,” White said. “More than [Brock] Lesnar, more than anybody, and he turned the deal down. 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 to release him from his contract, we’re going to give up our right to match, and he can go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants. That’s where we’re at.”
Dana White on Francis Ngannou: I think he doesn’t want to take the risk
Ngannou has previously stated multiple times that any new contract must allow him the opportunity to explore extracurricular activities, such as a potential career in boxing after he teased the idea of facing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Ngannou’s projected next opponent, Jon Jones, according to White, wasn’t enough to persuade him to stay.
“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’s plenty of places where you can do that, and that’s where he’ll 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.” (H/T – MMAfighting.com)
Ciryl Gane and Jon Jones will battle for the vacant UFC Heavyweight title at UFC 285.