Things have deteriorated between Francis Ngannou and the UFC brass that the heavyweight champion now badly wants out of his UFC contract, even if it means walking away from millions of dollars.
Ngannou supposedly wants to sit out the remaining months left on his deal — mostly just stemming from the champion’s clause — and plans to pursue free agency. He wants to get free of the UFC’s restrictive contracts, to not only get far better pay, but to also get more control in his career.
Dana White previously slammed Ngannou’s management for these issues, and it looks like Chael Sonnen agrees. The former UFC star, who has sided with the promotion before in these types of issues, also thinks Ngannou is getting “bad advice.”
Sonnen says without any guarantees, it’s “silly” to hold out with the UFC and just hope a boxing promoter is “willing to lose a ton of money” on him.
“I found [the post-fight comments] to be powerful, because I no longer think he’s bluffing. I do believe Francis is being given bad advice,” Sonnen said on his podcast (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “Wherever Francis is thinking that the world wants him to go and fight Tyson Fury, I don’t know who put that in his head. But that’s Francis’ dream, and I’d be way out of bounds trying to take it from him.
“If you’ve got some promoter out there that’s willing to lose a ton of money and wants to throw it at that match — and how they’re going to package it and how they’re going to sell, I really haven’t the foggiest idea — but if they want to do it, that’s their business, it’s not ours,” he said.
“It would seem like a very risky thing, and even a silly thing, to hold out for [a Fury fight] when you don’t know that you have a bird in the hand. Francis being active [in the UFC] is looking at anywhere from six to nine million dollars this year. So his opportunity cost just to wait until December for a fight that he does not have is the better part of your career earnings. That’s his decision.”
While touting the UFC brand, Sonnen also seemingly questioned the heavyweight star’s drawing ability.
“If December rolls around next year and Francis has been unseen, and Francis is no longer the undisputed champion and he no longer has the power of the organization behind him, the [likeliness] of a payday in boxing with Fury exponentially declines,” Sonnen said. “That’s always a hard one to see.”
There’s a few things to unpack from Sonnen’s statements, but the biggest thing is that Ngannou really wouldn’t be holding out for too long if we consider his knee injury. With the torn MCL and damaged ACL, Ngannou will be having surgery and he really is going to be on the sidelines for several months anyway.
It’s also worth pointing out how if he stayed, Ngannou really wouldn’t be getting nine million dollars from the UFC this year either.
Even as champion, he only had a $600,000 purse for UFC 270. If that event sold 500,000 PPVs, on the standard rate Ngannou would’ve taken home an additional $400,000. That’s a total of just $1 million for a relatively big fight. So even if Ngannou came back from knee injury quicker than the 9-10 months they gave, he still would need a significant pay bump and multiple fights in rapid succession to even reach that figure Sonnen brought up.
Add in the fact that Ngannou has complained about inactivity and has only been booked once a year lately, and it’s understandable how this becomes an easier decision for him to just recover and wait to truly test his market value in free agency.
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