UFC Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou wants to see changes made by the fight promotion, and believes it’s the duty of the athletes to lobby for something better.
Ngannou successfully defended his title for the first time in January, defeating Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision in the UFC 270 main event. The 36-year old underwent knee surgery to repair an ACL and MCL weeks after the fight and has been recovering and rehabilitating.
The bout with Gane was the last on Ngannou’s contract. He and the fight promotion failed to reach a deal prior to the fight and Ngannou says that he hasn’t received a new offer from UFC headquarters.
“My contract status right now is still the same. I haven’t received any offer, so it’s still the same,” Ngannou said on the MMA on SiriusXM Podcast. “I hope in like the next three months, two to three months, we can deal with that, to solve that.”
It’s been eight months since Ngannou headlined UFC 270. That may seem like a long time for the fight promotion to not make an offer, but Ngannou isn’t worried.
“It’s no surprise to me. I think we are not in a rush. I’m not in a rush either,” Ngannou said. “I mean, I’m not going anywhere, so I’m not rushing. At the end of the day we have a long time.”
Ngannou wants the freedom to box
Part of the reason the fight promotion and Ngannou couldn’t come to an agreement before he fought Gane was the stipulations Ngannou wanted. He wanted the freedom to box, among other things. When asked if boxing was still a sticking point, Ngannou replied, “However this ends up, that has to be part of it.”
Ngannou entered the ring after Tyson Fury defeated Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium on April 23. He and Fury hyped a potential future fight.
“We’re going to find out who the baddest motherf**ker on the planet is,” said Ngannou. “A couple of months and I’ll be right back on my feet.”
“This is going to be a very special fight like never before seen in the history of our sport,” said Fury about a potential match against Ngannou. “We’re not talking two light guys, 140-pound guys. I’m 270. He’s 270 pounds, so it’s going to be an explosive fight when it happens.”
Ngannou wants to box Fury because it would be a massive payday. The UFC heavyweight champion against boxing’s heavyweight champion markets itself. UFC did allow former two-division champion Conor McGregor to crossover to boxing to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017.
Francis Ngannou calls for changes in UFC contracts with fighters
Having the ability to accept boxing bouts wasn’t the only thing Ngannou wants to see changed moving forward. He would like to see several changes made by UFC policy and fighter contracts.
“When you look at this sport, do you think everything is perfect? I don’t think everything is perfect,” Ngannou said. “Over my time I realized there’s a lot of issues that can be fixed. I was getting frustrated at one point because I felt unprotected… I would like for the UFC to consider the opposition to a lot of things now regarding to fighters.”
UFC fighters wear sponsored attired during an event’s fight week. The current apparel contract is with Venum. The fight promotion also recently inked a deal with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s shoe company, Project Rock. The deals prevent fighters from certain sponsorship deals that were lucrative to fighters in the past.
“I think fighters should also have a right to get a sponsor on their shirt. Not for the company to make money out of it,” Ngannou said. “I understand that they want to make this uniform stuff and make this sport clean. I understand that.”
“We should have some sort of way to check and approve certain sponsors, so you can bring your sponsor inside and make money out of it,” continued Ngannou. “I feel like, over time, UFC fighters, we are losing a lot of power. The company is getting big, getting stronger, and we have no power.”
“I think for us (the fighters), it’s also our duty to do something to leave a better sport to the next generation.”