The UFC is currently at loggerheads with its undisputed heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. The crux of the matter is the champ’s contract, which—like all UFC—contracts severely restricts what a fighter can do outside of a UFC-branded Octagon.
Ngannou has made no secret about his desire to operate more independently and take a big money boxing match against Tyson Fury. Ngannou would also like more money, but has stressed that’s this is not the most important factor at play.
‘The Predator’ has claimed that he has turned down multiple offers to extend his contract from the UFC, costing him around $7 million.
Ngannou recently received some support from a fellow UFC heavyweight, who thinks the UFC should not obstruct the Cameroonian’s desires to test himself in the boxing ring.
Curtis Blaydes, who has fought Ngannou twice, appeared on MMA Fighting’s The Writer and the Fighter podcast where he discussed the elephant in the room when it comes to the UFC’s treatment of Ngannou.
“You opened the door when you let [Conor] McGregor do it,” said Blaydes, referring to McGregor’s UFC-endorsed dalliance with boxing, which saw the Irishman lose to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017.
“I don’t see a real reason why Francis shouldn’t be allowed to do it. I cannot think of a legit reason, because McGregor was able to do it.”
“Yeah, there’s a risk of an injury, but OK, injuries can happen whenever,” Blaydes continued. “They can happen at practices. That’s not a good enough reason, especially when he can potentially earn [a lot for both sides], even if it’s only $5 million.
“That’s a lot of money. I don’t blame Francis wanting to take the boxing match. I cannot blame him.”
Blaydes added that he hopes that the UFC and Ngannou can work things out. And that’s not just because he wants Ngannou to get his wish.
“If Francis has the belt and they’re arguing for a year, then you’ve got to do the interim thing again and you hope that he comes back. It makes it a lot harder for guys like me to possibly to project a pathway to get to the belt if I don’t know what’s happening with the guy who does have the belt.
“Then we still have guys like Jon [Jones], we don’t know what he’s doing. We’ve still got Stipe [Miocic], we don’t know what he’s doing. It would make it a lot easier for guys like me to project if we knew he was going to be in the UFC or if he wasn’t going to be in the UFC. Either way, I just hope they can reach a decision and they don’t have to drag it out.”
Blaydes’ last fight was a unanimous decision win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik at September’s UFC 266. That win followed a KO loss to Derrick Lewis last February. The Lewis loss snapped a four-fight winning streak for Blaydes.
That streak included wins over Alexander Volkov and Junior dos Santos. Blaydes only other pro losses are to Ngannou. The pair first met in 2016 with Ngannou winning by TKO (due to a doctor’s stoppage stemming from an eye injury). The rematch happened in 2018, with Ngannou scoring a 45-second TKO.
Blaydes is currently scheduled to face Chris Daukaus in the main event of UFC Columbus, which is set for March 26.
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