The contract battle between Francis Ngannou and the UFC took an interesting turn last week, with the revelation that the promotion had apparently threatened their heavyweight champion’s management team with legal action. It seems Ngannou’s people have been speaking with Jake Paul’s people about the Xtreme Couture fighter’s ongoing boxing interests, and the UFC wants to put a stop to it.
The ‘Predator’ claimed that his team received an email from the UFC shortly before he was set to step into the Octagon for his title unification bout against Ciryl Gane, outlining their plans to take Ngannou’s management to court. Whether they carry through on that threat, they’ve already created at least one ripple effect. Namely giving Jake Paul more ammunition to work with in his ongoing war of words with the world’s largest MMA promotion.
Paul recently released a new Dana White ‘diss track’ complete with music video. And speaking to MMA Fighting about the project he gave his thoughts on the UFC’s treatment of their champ.
“Dana White is too busy sending out lawsuit threats to his heavyweight champions minutes before they enter the cage to fight another man,” Paul said, speaking of his feud with White over fighter pay. “I think he actually sent my partner [Nakisa Bidarian] the same thing at 9 p.m. that night when Dana’s supposedly being president at his big PPV event for a public company.”
“Imagine if Adam Silver sent a lawsuit to Lebron James minutes before he took the floor for the NBA Finals, then, refused to present him with the NBA championship trophy after he won,” Paul added. “It’s pure disrespect to the athlete and the sport.”
Those “trophy” comments refer to White’s noted absence from his typical spot cage-side during Ngannou vs. Gane, and the fact that the UFC president also wasn’t in the cage to present the belt to the defending champ after his victory.
White scoffed at suggestions that his absence was an intentional slight to Ngannou due to the rocky relationship between fighter and promotion, telling reporters that “…for anybody to think that I was showing any type of disrespect toward Francis… I saw Francis all week, you idiots,” adding that he was dealing with “some stuff” backstage that required his attention instead.
For Paul’s part, he maintains that his battle with UFC brass is all about pushing the company to treat their talent better and deliver a larger share of revenue. Paul claims that all proceeds from his music video are “going directly to fighter causes,” and recent news about his acquisition of shares in UFC parent company Endeavor is all part of his plan to put pressure on the UFC.
“This isn’t about boxing or MMA,” Paul explained. “This is about doing what is right. UFC can and should do better given the control it has exerted over MMA fighters. Either treat them as independent contractors, like Uber does its drivers, or give them the compensation and benefits they deserve as employees.”
Lately Paul has been on a hiatus from his celebrity boxing career, as he focuses on promoting an upcoming women’s boxing superfight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. No word yet on just when he might return to the ring.
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