Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou parted ways with UFC earlier this year after failing to come to terms on a new contract. But “The Predator” was butting heads with Dana White and Co. long before he held the 265-pound crown. Not just for potential super fights, but for his regular bookings, as well.
The Cameroonian slugger claims the “pressure” to re-up came as far back as his Junior dos Santos fight at UFC on ESPN 3, which Ngannou won by knockout. His disclosed payout in the fight beforehand, a first-round finish over former champion Cain Velasquez, was $110,000 to show and $110,000 to win.
Velasquez was paid $450,000 in defeat.
“I had an eight-fight contract and I wanted to fulfill that contract, but they wouldn’t allow me since I wasn’t going to sign another contract because they know that if I fulfill that contract, I’m automatically free,” Ngannou told LeBatard Show. “They used some kind of dirty game there, freeze me out, they knew how much I was getting per fight. It wasn’t much at all, few pennies. They knew I couldn’t make a living out of it so I had to come back and accept that contract. That was after the Junior dos Santos fight in June 2019. One of the things that was hard about that as well was the pressure they were putting on [me]. I’m just me and they are them. They are massive.”
Ngannou (17-3) would continue his winning ways and eventually capture the division crown, improving his salary to $600,000 per fight — his last recorded payout under the UFC banner. But “The Predator” lost all confidence in the promotion’s ability to treat him fairly after enduring a stressful negotiating period.
It doesn’t sound like longtime rival, Jon Jones, had the same problem.
“When you say a few pennies, it was more than a few pennies, but it wasn’t what you were worth,” host Dan Le Batard said. “What were the dollar amounts we’re talking about there?”
“100 … 120,” Ngannou replied.
Ngannou, who turns 37 later this year, eventually won his freedom — at a cost of $7 million — and hooked up with PFL MMA for a lucrative contract that includes pay-per-vew (PPV) super fights, a role in the promotion’s expansion into Africa, and the ability to pursue a career in boxing.
For much more on that upcoming transition click here.