Francis Ngannou and Dana White’s relationship have seemingly deteriorated following a long and public contract dispute. The heavyweight champion is said to get knee surgery soon, then likely wait out the remaining time on his UFC deal.
As Ngannou could possibly be the first to enter free agency even as the sitting UFC champion, many personalities have been weighing in on the hot topic. One of them has been Sean O’Malley, who says Ngannou shouldn’t have “talked shit” to his “boss” and believes he’s “not in a great position” as a result.
“I’m not sure if we talked too much about Dana not putting the belt around Francis. I think, dude, if you’re going to go out there and just talk shit about the boss and the company, you can’t just expect no backlash. Right?” O’Malley said on his YouTube channel. “It makes sense that—Dana is running a business, and his heavyweight champion, the one who is the main f—king champ, the baddest dude on planet earth, is just every interview he gets, talking shit.
“And I don’t want to say talking shit in a bad way. I guess he is just talking facts. But it is talking shit, and you can’t do that to the UFC,” he argued. “You can’t do that to Dana. You can’t do that to your boss. You can, but now Ngannou is not in a great position.
“Imagine he’s the heavyweight champion of the world, him and Dana have a great relationship. I bet there’s leeway there to make some negotiations, but now it’s not happening.”
At UFC 270, Ngannou took home just $600,000 (plus an estimate of around $400,000 more, if the event sold 500K PPVs). If he becomes a true free agent, the heavyweight champion can field far more lucrative offers while he’s coming off a win and his profile is at its highest.
From short to long term deals in MMA, boxing crossovers, or maybe even a return to the UFC on a far better deal, Ngannou will certainly have better options compared to when there was only one buyer that holds all the leverage. As seen in other sports, the opportunities and competition that free agency brings can only help drive up salaries for the athletes.
Obviously some of the things said in public (from both sides) could’ve been better, but contrary to what O’Malley says, Ngannou entering free agency actually puts him in the best situation he’s ever been in his career.
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