Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has opened up about the negotiations that led to his release from the MMA juggernaut.
UFC President Dana White made the shocking announcement that the Cameroon fighter had been released from his contract and would be stripped of his heavyweight title.
Within his announcement he claimed that Ngannou had realised ‘he could fight lesser opponents and make more money’.
However, appearing on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, the 36-year-old says that the breakdown didn’t necessarily come from wanting more money.
He said: “In that contract, I’m not free.
“I’m not an independent contractor. I have no rights. I hand over all the power to you guys. I’ve seen in the past how you guys can utilise your power against me, and I don’t want that.”
Ngannou estimated that the new deal would see him fight Jon Jones twice, before completing his rematch with Stipe Miocic.
However, within contract discussions he claims he wanted more than just money, he wanted all fighters to have permission to get in-cage sponsorships, health insurance, and a dedicated advocate for athletes in contract negotiations.
He didn’t fully expect UFC to agree to his requests but wanted to make it known that’s that what the fighters deserved.
He said: “I just wanted them to know it was something I did want, and consider it. They said no, they don’t do business like that.”
Adding: “At this point, health insurance for me is not a problem, but how about the guys at the bottom. They can’t really afford health insurance. And I have been there, so it’s something I carry in my heart.”
Within White’s statement, he claimed the UFC was willing to make Ngannou the highest-paid heavyweight of all time.
Ngannou says he couldn’t be sure on that note as the UFC doesn’t make fighter pay public.
“It’s all their narrative, which is their narrative, and it can’t be proven,” he said. “I wish it could work. I really do. I really wanted, but not at any cost.”
Later adding: “At some time, I feel like I was slapped in the face by money, like, ‘Take the money and shut up.’ And that couldn’t happen.
“It was just a matter of principle, and at that time, I knew this was it. They didn’t say on the phone, ‘This is what’s going to happen,’ but I knew.”
The heavyweight later disputed the fact that he was released from his contract, saying that he had been a free agent since early December but didn’t go public out of ‘respect’ for the company in negotiations.
As for what he wants in his next contract, he said: “I think I just need some respect, more respect at least.
“It’s very important. I need some freedom. I need to feel like a man, own my freedom, control my destiny. I don’t want anybody to decide for me. I think I’m man enough to decide for my own, and so far, I haven’t been doing a bad job at all.”
Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy. ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy.
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