MMA isn’t just the fight game, it’s also the fight business.
For UFC Champion Francis Ngannou, the business side of things has been difficult for him this year. After successfully capturing the heavyweight title in March, it hasn’t been quite the same for the powerhouse from Cameroon.
Months after becoming the new champion, dealings with the UFC would become rather difficult. The promotion would push him to defending his title at UFC 265 in August. Ngannou would refuse, wanting a return in September instead.
Instead of booking a title defense for Ngannou after August, they would make an interim title between Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane. The interim title was made 3 months after Ngannou fought in March. This wouldn’t sit well with the champion or the management team behind him.
Martin Speaks Out
Now booked to fight Gane at UFC 270 next month, Ngannou’s manager Marquel Martin would discuss some of the dealings with the UFC over this complicated year.
“From the beginning, we’ve always and still do remain, like, open to negotiating with UFC.” Martin said on SiriusXM’s ‘Throwing Down with Renee and Miesha‘. “Even from my standpoint and his representation’s standpoint, UFC is the best MMA promoter in the game, in the business. However, it has to make sense for Francis.”
“At the end of the day, I work for Francis, and he and I spent a lot of time chatting back and forth and trying to understand, okay, exactly what does that mean for his future, and we’ve had a lot of back and forth with the UFC. But to be honest with you, I haven’t heard back from the UFC since, I want to say June.”
To Make Matters Worse
UFC President Dana White isn’t exactly a fan of Marquel Martin. In the past, he has openly talked bad about Ngannou’s management team, CAA. In a recent interview with Teddy Atlas, White had this to say:
“I think Francis has been misguided too, by some people who aren’t very bright.” White said. “That doesn’t help either, when you got some people behind you that don’t have a f*cking clue what they’re talking about.”
CAA being a competitor of Endeavor, who owns the UFC, does not help Martin’s case either. Martin would further discuss his situation with the UFC.
“You hear this false narrative of representation [at UFC]. What does representation look like in your mind, UFC? To say yes to every single thing that you do. Am I supposed to take you out to dinner, be your best friend? No, I have a fiduciary obligation to my client, and the facts are, okay, if you want to judge me and try to put me out of business for whatever reason and bully me publicly, I don’t respond to that. CAA doesn’t respond to that. We know how to do our job. We’re very competent at what we do.”
“Let me make this clear: It’s not all about money.” Martin added. “It is 1000 percent not all about money, and they know that. But at the end of the day, the UFC has a business model, that’s how they run it with all their fighters. They can’t put themselves in a situation to establish a precedent that negatively reflects [on] them, so that’s kind of the rub. If they had an offer that made sense for them and for Francis, we’re open to entertain it. They’ve made it pretty clear where they’re at, so it’s an unfortunate, and I hate to say this, but it feels like a standoff.”
"It's not ALL about the money."
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) December 28, 2021