Dana White had premonition of ‘zero risk’ Francis Ngannou’s PFL future

UFC president Dana White unloaded on Francis Ngannou's lucrative deal with the PFL, and overall sees no logic behind it.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 1 week ago
Dana White had premonition of ‘zero risk’ Francis Ngannou’s PFL future

UFC president Dana White finally spoke out about Francis Ngannou’s recent high-profile signing with the PFL. In a nutshell, he didn’t have very flattering words for both parties. 

Speaking from his experience working with “The Predator,” White says he sees no logic behind the said deal. 

Dana White claims Ngannou takes “zero risks”

White began his lengthy statement on the matter by taking a few shots at his former heavyweight champion. Speaking to the media during the UFC Vegas 73 post-fight presser, he called out Ngannou for not wanting to take chances during. 

“Based on what I know about the deal — which is not much — it makes no sense to me. You’re gonna pay a guy not to fight for a year.. and it’s only been, like, 18 months. He’s fought three times in the last three years… it’s just not what we do here,” White told reporters.  

“The day that we released him, I knew exactly what was gonna happen. Francis wants to take zero risks. Doesn’t want to take any chances. Obviously didn’t want to take a chance against Jon Jones

“And after we saw what happened with Ciryl Gane, I don’t blame him. I think the outcome would’ve been exactly the same, and I’m sure most of you do, and I’m sure Francis does, too. 

For Dana White, including Ngannou’s boxing plans in the deal is another head-scratcher. 

“The media makes it sound like I’m saying that he’s afraid of him. I don’t think that he’s afraid of anybody. It’s just the fact that he doesn’t want to take any risks. 

“PFL is gonna pay this guy to train for a boxing match that may not even happen, and that they might not even be involved in. How does that make any sense? It doesn’t make sense to me.” 

When talking about “risks,” it’s worth pointing out that Ngannou has already fought a lot of champions and heavy hitters during his UFC run, and proved he’s the best heavyweight in the world. He also took a massive risk by betting on himself to beat Gane while injured so he could complete his UFC contract as a champion. He risked it all again when he declined UFC’s offer to try and get a better deal as a true free agent. Despite White’s claims, Ngannou repeatedly risked it all and bet on himself, and it seems to have paid off well for him.

Dana White calls Ngannou-Joshua a “gimmick fight”

Upon his official UFC release in January, Ngannou said he passed on a UFC re-signing because it didn’t include his longtime boxing aspirations. 

“In that contract, I’m not free,” he said. “I’m not an independent contractor. I have no rights. I hand over all the power to you guys. I’ve seen in the past how you guys can utilize your power against me, and I don’t want that.”

Dana White says he isn’t at all fond of crossover fights with one exception, and agreed with one of Ngannou’s prospective opponents

“Anthony Joshua called a gimmick fight this week. When asked about that fight, he’s like, ‘I’m focused on fighting the best guys in the world. I’m not interested in a gimmick fight right now. 

“And that’s one of the big problems of boxing right now, is it’s always about these gimmicky type fights. And that’s just not what I do here. It’s not what I do. I put on fights with the best fighters in the world and fights that people want to see.”

Per Dana White, UFC executive Hunter Campbell did his best in trying to re-sign Ngannou, to no avail. 

“Francis could’ve done a deal here. Hunter threw the kitchen sink at that guy. Hunter went to more dinners with Francis Ngannou and did everything in his power to try to get this fight done. Francis just thinks that he’s in a position where he’s got some Conor McGregor-Mayweather fight on his hands, which he does not. 

“That fight was, like, a once-in-a-lifetime type deal. A fight that I wasn’t very interested in. But at the end of the day, it became so big. The right guys, the right time, the right place. The fans wanted it. So we did it. We got it done.

“MMA guys vs. boxers doesn’t make any sense to me. But I know that he thinks that there’s all this money in it. I disagree.” 

As Dana White repeatedly pointed out, Ngannou isn’t expected to compete until 2024. Part of the deal guarantees a “high seven-figure” purse for each fight, a signing bonus or salary as PFL’s brand ambassador, and a right to his own sponsorships. Apart from the big money involved, perhaps more importantly for Ngannou, his current contract also involves a lot more freedom than UFC was ever willing to offer. 

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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