Francis Ngannou didn’t walk away from the UFC for financial reasons according to the former UFC heavyweight’s coach Eric Nicksick.
On Saturday night, UFC president Dana White revealed that the promotion would be moving on without ‘The Predator’ as part of the heavyweight division after nearly two years of negotiations. Ngannou was reportedly offered a contract by UFC that would make him the highest-paid heavyweight in the company’s history, but in the end, the former heavyweight champion simply wanted the freedom that the UFC was unwilling to provide.
In an interview with The Schmo, Eric Nicksick revealed that money had nothing to do with Ngannou walking away and had everything to do with him wanting to pursue other avenues of revenue, specifically a foray into the sweet science.
“He knew what he wanted and he didn’t budge on what he wanted, so kudos to him,” Nicksick told The Schmo. “The money was there, and that’s not what moves him. It wasn’t the money that was moving him, it was other things, other terms – some sticking points that he just couldn’t wave around.
“I think that’s something that was definitely a sticking point for him – that he wanted the opportunity to be able to box. I think the definition of ‘independent contractor’ and ’employee’ was something he just wasn’t comfortable with. He wanted the opportunity that if somebody came along and was a higher bidder, he wanted to be able to take that opportunity.”
Francis Ngannou is the baddest man on the planet & is a free agent bc he chose to be. He’s the heavyweight champ in MMA & will be until he loses.
They are not happy about this. But it’s reality, & they have to deal with it. They have to live with that everyday. @francis_ngannou
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) January 16, 2023
Eric Nicksick Believes Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones Could Still Happen
With Francis Ngannou’s exit so goes perhaps the biggest fight in UFC history. Jon Jones will make his long-awaited heavyweight debut later this year at UFC 285, but it won’t be against ‘The Predator’ like Dana White had hoped. Instead, Jones will take on No. 1 ranked contender Ciryl Gane for the now-vacant heavyweight crown. Despite the missed opportunity, Nicksick believes there is still a chance of Jones vs. Ngannou happening down the line.
“That part’s always going to bother me on the competitive side because Jon Jones is the GOAT to me,” Nicksick said. “So the competitor in me, yes, I’m always going to wish that we had that opportunity to put a game plan together, to go execute against who I think is the best ever to do it. So that’s going to bug but me at the end of the day. That opportunity might still be on the table later on down the line” (h/t MMA Junkie)