Francis Ngannou: UFC threatening to sue my manager over alleged boxing talks


Francis Ngannou, in the hours leading up to his successful heavyweight title unification on Saturday in the UFC 270 headliner, learned through his manager, Marquel Martin, of the UFC’s threat to sue Martin, the champion revealed during an appearance Monday on “The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.” 

Ngannou, who defeated interim titleholder Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., said Martin notified him of an email from the promotion threatening litigation over an alleged discussion between the Creative Artists Agency rep and former UFC chief financial officer Nakisa Bidarian, who manages YouTuber-turned-boxing star Jake Paul, about Ngannou competing in the ring. 

“I walked into the room waiting for my manager, my coach,” Ngannou said. “And they were like, ‘Wow.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ They told me they just received an email from the UFC saying they’re going to sue [Martin] for talking with this guy, Nakisa. Yeah. I’m like, ‘Who is Nakisa?’ ” 

Francis Ngannou with his belt after he defeated Ciryl Gane.
AFP via Getty Images

ESPN reported it had confirmed the contents of the email Martin received, as well as the timing the message was received, while Ngannou was getting dressed before heading to the arena on Saturday. 

A UFC representative declined The Post’s request for comment on Ngannou’s appearance on “The MMA Hour” on Monday night. 

Ngannou’s revelation of alleged litigation is the latest twist in the public erosion of the relationship between the UFC and its heavyweight champ, who captured the title last March when he knocked out Stipe Miocic. Three months later, UFC president Dana White announced that an interim title fight would take place Aug. 7 between Gane and Derrick Lewis, a move that Martin told ESPN was a “complete shock.” White has contended that Ngannou’s team was aware an interim title fight was a possibility. Ngannou’s representatives had said he was willing to make his first title defense a month later, in September. 

In the lead up to UFC 270, Ngannou’s contract standoff with the promotion emerged as a major narrative entering the fight with Gane, an ex-teammate who still trains under Ngannou’s former coach Fernand Lopez in France. The 35-year-old from Cameroon made clear his desire to be permitted in his contract to box, in addition to more money. 

Francis Ngannou and Dana White before UFC 270.
Francis Ngannou and Dana White before UFC 270.
Zuffa LLC

But on “The MMA Hour,” Ngannou reiterated that money is not all he’s concerned about, including the murky distinction between being considered an independent contractor — as UFC has contended about its athletes — or an employee entitled to benefits such as healthcare coverage that are not known to be available to the UFC roster. He estimated he has left as much as $7 million on the table by turning down UFC contract offers. According to the California State Athletic Commission, Ngannou earned a disclosed event-high $600,000 on Saturday, a far cry from the eight-figure paydays that heavyweight boxing champions have earned in high-profile bouts for decades. 

“You can be free and fight for the UFC,” Ngannou said. “I just want to be free. We are supposedly independent contractors. [An] independent contractor is technically a free person. That’s the reason why they need some adjustments in that contract. That’s what I’ve been fighting for.” 

In comments to TMZ last week, White expressed optimism that he’s “sure we’ll figure it out one way or another” with regard to Ngannou’s contract. However, the UFC president broke from typical tradition Saturday when he did not wrap the championship belt around Ngannou’s waist following the announcement that he had retained his title. In an even more unusual move, White did not appear at the post-event media availability. The UFC president has yet to speak publicly about Ngannou since Saturday’s fights.



Source link

Latest Posts

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here