Francis Ngannou has parted ways with the UFC.
Ngannou’s UFC contract negotiations have come to an end. ‘The Predator’ last fought against Ciryl Gane in January 2022, winning by unanimous decision with a grappling-heavy game plan. Since then, the 36-year-old has been recovering from knee surgery while negotiating with the UFC for more money.
Although there were rumors of negotiations starting to improve, Dana White has announced both parties have moved on. During the UFC Vegas 67 post-event press conference, the UFC president had this to say about Ngannou:
“We’ve been working on a new agreement with Francis for two years now… We offered Francis a deal that would’ve made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the history of the company. More than [Brock] Lesnar, more than anybody, and he turned the deal down…”
White continued by saying:
“We get to this point where, I’ve told you guys this before, if you don’t wanna be here, you don’t have to be here. I think Francis is in a place right now where he doesn’t wanna take a lot of risk, feels like he’s in a good position where he can fight lesser opponents and make more money. We’re gonna let him do that. We’re gonna release him from his contract, give up our right to match, and he can go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants.”
Ngannou has several options outside of the UFC. The former heavyweight world champion has shown interest in a big-time boxing match against Tyson Fury or another heavyweight superstar. If ‘The Predator’ sticks to MMA, there has been speculation about the PFL potentially being a contender, among other promotions. It also wouldn’t be impossible for him to return to the UFC. Until then, the heavyweight division must move forward.
Francis Ngannou released from his UFC contract. Jones/Gane for the HW championship at UFC 285.#UFC pic.twitter.com/1Omh505Tmj
— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) January 15, 2023
What’s next for the UFC heavyweight division if Francis Ngannou doesn’t return?
Dana White announced that Francis Ngannou would be stripped of the UFC Heavyweight Championship, leaving the division without a king. During the same media interview, White confirmed rumors about Jon Jones fighting Ciryl Gane for the title at UFC 285 on March 4.
While Ngannou was negotiating with the UFC, Jones was rumored to be matched up with Stipe Miocic. He didn’t sign the contract, so Gane was next in line. Now that there will be a new champion, the heavyweight division could become more active following ‘The Predator’ defending the title once in 2022.
🚨JON JONES JUST CONFIRMED HE IS FIGHTING CYRIL GANE FOR THE TITLE SHOT AT #UFC285
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) January 14, 2023