The relationship between current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and the promotion continues to be on rocky terms.
Ngannou spoke with host Ariel Helwani on the latest edition of his show The MMA Hour and talked about the continued contentious situation between him and the company currently. He opened up about how he believes that his refusal to sign a recent contract extension from the UFC is what has been the main cause of the issues.
“I did not sign a new deal,” Ngannou said (h/t MMA Fighting). “First of all, there is a champ clause and they’ve been trying to apply pressure with an extension, but I did not sign a new deal and I think that’s basically the issue. That’s what is causing all these issues because I don’t want to sign a new deal on certain terms. What doesn’t work for me, because I don’t feel protected in those terms — in the past two years I fought twice and I have to borrow money to live. Nobody cares about that. I have no guarantee and I have no protection, so based on that experience I want to get something better, better terms on my contract, and obviously paid what I deserve.”
He continued on to reiterate his adoration for the promotion and competing under the UFC banner but feels they're trying to currently discredit and disrespect him. Ngannou makes his Octagon return on January 22 when he faces interim UFC heavyweight champion and former training partner, Cyril Gane, in an undisputed heavyweight title unification bout at UFC 270.
“The UFC is a beautiful and nice promotion,” Ngannou said. “I love being in the UFC. The only part that is challenging now is the behind-the-scenes part. But fighting, I love it. That’s for sure, I love the promotion, that’s not questionable. I still hope that this works out. I still hope I wish that it would work out. In the meantime, if it doesn’t work out, I can’t do anything. In my opinion for right now, from what I’m seeing, the UFC is trying to discredit me. That’s what I know. And those promoting somebody cannot work together with discrediting him. You don’t do that to somebody that you want to promote. What do I look for? First of all, I look for some respect, that’s to start. Then I look to get stuff right, I look to feel like I’m respected, to feel like they care at least. That’s it. I never asked for anything more than that. That would be enough for me…I gained the position that I am at. I wasn’t nominated, I wasn’t assigned to be here, I earned it. So that means I deserve a little bit of respect, just a little bit. I’m not a big deal, just a little famous, that’s it. (Laughs).”