The UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and the UFC have had cold relations for over a year. According to Ariel Helwani, the UFC and Ngannou are currently in negotiations and things are sounding positive.
On The MMA Hour, Helwani explained:
“Francis is about to become a free agent. But I’m hearing that talks are actually pretty good. You saw Erick Nicksick, his coach, reference March 4th. I’ve been saying this — how long have I been saying if they couldn’t get a fight in December for Jones, the March early PPV was when they were going to try and do Jones vs. Ngannou. I think I may have said it like ten times?”
Some new facts are coming out such as that Ngannou has now changed representation. Helwani continued:
“So none of this is new, the newish stuff is that Francis is no longer represented by CAA, that opens the door for Endeavor wanting to do business. They will do business, and as I’ve said, I think they figure it out and I think he signs and I think they try to make that fight, March 4th.” [Transcript courtesy of MMA Mania]
See the full episode below:
Francis Ngannou’s leverage with the UFC
Despite being the UFC’s heavyweight world champion, the Cameroonian fighter Francis Ngannou may have found that he does not have the leverage with the UFC that he expected. Helwani explained:
“Now a bunch of managers have tried to broker a deal. Francis is standing pat. He is not doing any deals with house managers, he’s not doing any sort of friendly deals, he is sticking to his guns. And I have an infinite amount of respect for him in that regard and in all regards. But when it comes to the business, he’s not one of those guys that’ll say something on Zoom and then does something [different] behind the scenes. I think he’ll get what he wants, to a degree. Obviously he has leverage as UFC heavyweight champion and [Ngannou vs. Jones] would be one of the biggest fights of 2023.”
Francis Ngannou became the heavyweight world champion with a knockout win over Stipe Miocic and has now defended this throne against Ciryl Gane. Cameroon’s Ngannou has also knocked out Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and others in the octagon.