Francis Ngannou could have a very lucrative and flexible deal coming his way after hitting free agency. Ngannou recently walked away from the UFC after failing to come to terms on a new contract that would keep him with the promotion in which he made a name for himself. “The Predator” is now recognized as one of, if not the, most powerful punchers in all of the combat sports.
At the time of his UFC exit, Ngannou was actually the heavyweight champion for the promotion. Now, his title has been vacated and will be competed for by Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane in March. Ngannou has expressed interest in going over to the boxing world as well as continuing his mixed martial arts (MMA) journey, calling out the likes of Tyson Fury in the process.
Bellator MMA Aggressively Pursues Francis Ngannou
According to a report from Insider, Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza has confirmed that Bellator MMA is “absolutely interested” in pursuing Ngannou. Espinoza would certainly know since Showtime currently broadcasts Bellator events. With that, Showtime can also offer Ngannou the opportunity to compete in boxing with a potential deal with Bellator.
He adds that Bellator can offer Ngannou a multi-fight and multi-year deal that would allow the African striker to compete in MMA, while also jumping in and out of boxing against some of Showtime’s biggest names such as Deontay Wilder. With that being said, Espinoza confirmed Bellator’s interest by suggesting “There will be a very aggressive pursuit of him.”
As for Ngannou’s failed negotiations with the UFC, the heavyweight champion was lobbying for benefits for fighters such as health insurance, wearing your own sponsors inside the Octagon, and the freedom to pursue boxing fights outside the UFC as well. Ultimately, those requests were denied, thus prompting the UFC to allow Ngannou to walk.
“To be completely honest, a lot of this is not about Ngannou or about a particular fight,” Espinoza said. “It’s about the precedent and the message that is sent to everyone else in the UFC, and to future deals in the UFC. So, what Ngannou was trying to do was break the mold a little bit, and he certainly had leverage to at least have that conversation.
“But, ultimately, from my perspective, the UFC felt they had far more at stake. They have a particular business model. Ngannou was not a fan of that business model, and that I think was a step too far for the UFC. They’ve got a business structure they’re not going to threaten for even something as attractive as an Ngannou.
“There will be a very aggressive pursuit of him. Bellator is absolutely interested.”
Another source from within Bellator notes in the report that Ngannou is, in fact, in discussions with the promotion – amongst others. Ngannou himself recently noted that the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) is an option for him as well, as the $1 million tournament prize has certainly got to be an enticing prospect. It will be an exciting development to see where the journey of his career takes him in the end. The outcome of his future endeavors will be closely watched by fans and experts alike as they anticipate the next chapter of his professional journey. It will be interesting to see what opportunities and challenges arise, and how he navigates them to ultimately reach his ultimate goal. The final destination of his career will be a topic of discussion for many in the sports industry.