Manager: Francis Ngannou Was ‘Very Close’ To Inking ‘Biggest UFC Contract Outside Of Conor McGregor’

Marquel Martin speaks on Ngannou's newest move.

Ngannou Manager
(via @marquel_martin - Instagram)

Francis Ngannou nearly re-signed with the UFC according to his manager Marquel Martin.

After fighting out the last fight of his contract against Ciryl Gane and waiting out a year for his championship clause to end, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion decided to dive head-first into the waters of free agency. 

The decision to depart from the MMA world leader was far from an easy one. But, ultimately Ngannou decided this is what was best for his career and signed a monumental deal with the PFL in the four-month long process.

Martin Says Ngannou Was ‘Getting Stalled Out’ In The UFC

Ngannou has been criticized by UFC President Dana White for not staying in the Octagon to fight Jon Jones along with fighting only ‘three times in three years’. Manager Martin says fighting once a year was simply not the the plan for ‘The Predator’, citing he should have been out of his UFC contract for quite some time, too.

“[With] Francis, we were trying to get so many fights. People have no idea he should have been done with his contract two years ago, easily,” Martin said on The MMA Hour. “We could have resigned, we could have done whatever. It was always, ‘hey, this is happening’ and ‘this is happening’. One could say he was just getting stalled out. And after the Rozenstruik fight, we’re waiting around forever and we didn’t wanna wait on Stie. I think something was going on with DC and Stipe. We don’t wanna wait. We’re like, we’ll take another fight, no problem. We’ll take another fight.

“So when people say, Francis didn’t wanna fight or blah, blah, blah, it’s just not true. Like, I stopped arguing with, with the Twitter trolls and stuff. It’s just, I got so many damn receipts, I’m not even gonna share ’em. The UFC knows that, like they know that we were actively trying to fight all the time.”

‘Fulfilling His Contract’

Martin was then asked if he initially thought Ngannou’s title defense against Ciryl Gane would be his final fight in the UFC. At the time, the manager wasn’t thinking about that. Instead, he and the team were worried about how Ngannou would do, entering the Octagon with pre-existing injuries.

“I think Eric, Dewey, Randy, we all told Francis because the one of the best doctors in the world was like, do not fight. When we found out the news, I’m like, bro, like you don’t have to do this,” Martin continued. “Like, we can try to push it back. Like, you know, obviously you’re on a contract, right? But Francis is, is he, he’s built different, like, I’ll just say that. So when that, when he won, it was just this sigh of relief for, for all of us. Sh*t, I was on the side of the Octagon crying, cause all I was was doing was praying the whole time. Cause I’m like, this dude is fighting on one leg with everything against him. But, if you think about Francis’s life and his story, like that’s just who he is. So, overcoming that was a huge win for all of us.

“I honestly thought it was just a position of strength from not only just a negotiation standpoint, but who Francis is and what he’s able to accomplish. The goal was to, ‘Hey, free agent? Cool, let’s re-sign’. But he had to fulfill his contract. Right. Francis was always about fulfilling his contract. That’s what you do.”

After Ngannou completed his deal, Martin says he wanted to put his client in a position to succeed— whether that be in the UFC or elsewhere [that being the PFL].

“Over the course of us going through the contract reading it going back and forth, getting CAA’s lawyers, outside lawyers’ opinions, this is what the contract is, this is what the contract states. Obviously we work for the client. I know how big like UFC is and how great they are. They’re amazing. Like if you don’t give respect to Hunter and Dana, like you’re crazy. Like I have tremendous respect. Francis has tremendous respect, but at the end of the day, we have to make smart business decisions, right? To put your client in a position to succeed. So that’s my side.”

Ngannou Was ‘Very Close’ To Re-Signing With UFC

Martin claims Ngannou wasn’t too off from another run in the UFC, claiming the money was all there. Everything else? Not good enough for the heavyweight champ.

“Yeah, I thought it got very close [coming to terms in a new contract],” Martin said of Ngannou’s negotiations with the UFC. “I wasn’t a part of the conversations in the fourth quarter and you can probably get, guess why, but in my conversations post those dinners and all that stuff, like there was a real chance that he was going to sign. It just had to be under the right terms.

“People were saying, oh, it’s all about money. Like, chill if we like keep it a hundred as they say, it’s like this dude got offered the biggest contract outside of Conor before the interim fight with Ciryl and [Jon Jones]. He said no because it wasn’t about just like money, obviously money plays a factor, right? But it was other things that were important to Francis and who am I to tell this dude no? Who am I to say, ‘nah, do this deal’. That’s not the kind of person I am. That’s not the kind of manager I wanna be. That’s not the kind of business I wanna do.

“Francis at the end of the day makes up his own mind/ But I would say that he was very close [to re-signing with UFC],” Martin added. “I would say that I wish things were different. I think there’s a lot of miscommunication in the back and forth and getting all these people involved. But, at the end of the day, I still think everyone won.”

Published on May 25, 2023 at 2:07 pm
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