Dana White has once again closed the door on Francis Ngannou potentially returning to the UFC.
‘The Predator’ rose to the top of the heavyweight division after scoring a second-round knockout against general consensus heavyweight GOAT Stipe Miocic at UFC 260. Things quickly went downhill for the Cameroonian as he engaged in a very public battle with the promotion over what he felt was an unfavorable contract.
Ngannou reluctantly closed out his then-existing deal with a successful title defense against Ciryl Gane 10 months removed from his initial championship victory. Announcing that he would be taking another chunk of time off to undergo knee surgery, many assumed that the two parties could strike a deal before ‘The Predator’ would be ready to resume defending the heavyweight crown. Unfortunately, that day would never come.
Dana White announced that the promotion was parting ways with Ngannou in January as the two were never able to come to terms. That, of course, paved the way for Jon Jones to return in March and claim the UFC heavyweight championship for himself. White had previously stated that Ngannou will never be in the UFC again, but many fight fans took that with a grain of salt.
Dana White details what led to Francis Ngannou's exit from the UFC. pic.twitter.com/31Ag9PYhwU
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 15, 2023
Dana White Says the ‘Ship Has Sailed’ on Francis Ngannou Ever Returning to the UFC
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, Dana White doubled down on his initial statement, slamming the door shut once and for all on ‘The Predator’ ever climbing back into the Octagon
“No. We worked with this guy for two years, we tried to get him a fight. He’s absolutely impossible to deal with. He’s – no, he’ll never be in the UFC again,” White said emphatically. “So, he made his decision – we worked hard, man. One of my guys, [Chief Business Officer] Hunter Campbell, who works for me, must have done 75 dinners with his guy, trying to get him on board. We offered him a lot of money and showed him nothing but respect. We wanted to keep him, and that ship has sailed.”
Francis Ngannou is yet to announce a new combat sports home, but recent reports suggest that ‘The Predator’ is on the verge of signing with Asia-based promotion ONE Championship, the current home of former UFC flyweight titleholder Demetrious Johnson.
Before making his return to mixed martial arts, Ngannou is hell-bent on scoring a big payday in the world of professional boxing. Expected to make his squared circle debut this summer, no official announcements have been made, but British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn suggested that it could come down to Anthony Joshua or knockout artist Deontay Wilder as potential opponents.