UFC President Dana White has given his side of the story on Francis Ngannou’s exit.
Ngannou was the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion. He successfully defended the gold against Ciryl Gane back in January 2022, and the talk coming out of that fight, aside from Ngannou’s MCL and ACL injuries, was “The Predator’s” contract status. Ngannou had been vocal about fighter pay and even went as far as to say he’d be content if he had competed under the UFC banner for the final time.
Ngannou is no longer on the UFC roster. The promotion released him and a new UFC Heavyweight Champion will be crowned when Gane and Jon Jones collide at UFC 285 on March 4.
During the UFC Vegas 67 post-fight press conference, White shared his point of view on what went down with Ngannou during negotiations (h/t MMAJunkie.com).
“We get to this point, and I’ve told you guys this 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 risks. He feels he’s in a good position where he can 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 and do whatever he wants. That’s where we’re at.”
White also said that Francis Ngannou was offered a deal that would’ve made him the highest-paid heavyweight in UFC history. The UFC boss said the contract was even bigger than Brock Lesnar’s deal, but Ngannou turned it down.
Dana White details what led to Francis Ngannou's exit from the UFC. pic.twitter.com/31Ag9PYhwU
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 15, 2023