Francis Ngannou announces his leave in front of the UCF 270 press conference, January 22, 2023.
Francis Ngannou's two-year standoff with the UFC finally came to an end this past week as the former heavyweight champion and the world’s second best fighter parted ways with the franchise. Ngannou had been in a contract dispute with the UFC since 2019, stemming from his feeling of being underpaid and mistreated by the promotion. He had asked for a release from the contract, citing a lack of clarity in the fighter’s pay and the disparity between his pay and that of other titleholders in the organization.
Ngannou had previously said that he felt as though he was being taken advantage of –– citing the unfairness of the deal, he sought to renegotiate his contract. After failing to meet a resolution with the UFC, Ngannou sought the help of executive agency CAA (Colonial Athletics Association) Sports and UFC Executive Hunter Campbell to resolve the matter. Despite having a successful run in the UFC, and winning the heavyweight title in 2020, he was unable to reach an agreement with the organization and ultimately resulted in his release.
Since the official announcement of his departure from the UFC, Ngannou has been vocal about his former employer. In a recent interview, he claims the disparity between fighter pay and that the lack of transparency was egregiously unfair, contributing to his decision to seek release.
“It's not simply money,” said Ngannou. “I don’t feel like I have been treated good…at the end of the day we put a lot of work into this job and we take a lot on our bodies, I think we should at least have a fair and square deal.”
Given the difficulties he encountered in resolving the contract dispute, many think Ngannou's decision to move on is a sensible one. Despite speaking out against UFC, Ngannou holds no ill will and hopes his former employer will "find the right path” moving forward.
Ngannou's next steps are uncertain, however, reports seem to suggest that he will transition into boxing. He already has a training program set up and, as it'll be a new challenge for him, he is expected to rise to the occasion. Many even speculate that he could become one of the top boxers in the world due to his many years of training in MMA.
This move also looks to be beneficial for Ngannou financially, as boxing is often known to offer a significantly higher pay than MMA. Whether this means that Ngannou is ready to hang up his gloves in boxing is yet to be seen. One thing is for certain though –– fans should expect Ngannou to put on a show no matter what his next career choice is.