Ariel Helwani Defends Francis Ngannou After Dana White’s Recent Interview: ‘That Is A Lie’

Ariel Helwani Isn't Happy With The Way Francis Ngannou Was Treated Before And After Being Released By The UFC.

Ariel Helwani
Ariel Helwani (Left), Francis Ngannou (Middle), and Dana White (Right)(Images via Instagram @ArielHelwani @FrancisNgannou @DanaWhite

Ariel Helwani provided his reaction to Francis Ngannou parting ways with the UFC.

On January 14, Dana White shocked the MMA community by announcing ‘The Predator’ had been released from his contract. The UFC heavyweight champion was in the process of re-negotiating before things went south. 

During an episode of The MMA Hour, Helwani went on an extended rant about Ngannou’s situation, including White and the UFC potentially mistreating their former heavyweight champion. He had this to say: 

“That press conference on Saturday was very hard to watch. What is the word to even use? Disgraceful? Pitiful? Embarrassing? Inaccurate? Uncomfortable? What is the best word? I don’t even know. I really don’t because what they were doing in that moment, in that press conference, if you want to be truly honest with yourself, was trying to hurt the man [Ngannou] on his way out…”

White mentioned how Ngannou turned down the most money a UFC heavyweight has ever made. The UFC president also said ‘The Predator’ is focused on fighting lesser opponents for more money. Helwani saw this as disrespectful because it suggests the former champion is ducking the other heavyweight contenders. There were several other things the MMA journalist wasn’t happy with. 

Ariel Helwani believes Dana White was lying about fighters not having to stay with the UFC if they don’t want to

During the UFC Vegas 67 post-fight press conference, Dana White stated that any fighter who didn’t want to be with UFC could leave. Ariel Helwani doesn’t believe that especially after Nate Diaz begged to be released from his contract last year. During the same podcast episode, Helwani had this to say regarding White’s comments about fighters being able to leave: 

“That right there is a bold-faced lie. That is a lie. Don’t you think Nathan Diaz didn’t want to be there? Do you think Al Iaquinta wants to be there? Do you think [Luke] Rockhold wants to be there? Do you think Francis Ngannou wanted to leave a long time ago?”

Helwani continued by saying: 

“You can’t call the UFC right now and say, ‘I don’t want to be here,’ and they will let you go. You can’t do that. So much so that if your contract is up, if the five years are up on your contract because every UFC contract now has a window of five years, there’s an extra year taxed on as a matching period.”

White also announced the heavyweight division would be moving on with Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane fighting for the vacant title on March 4. Meanwhile, Helwani is not moving on. The MMA journalist is interviewing Ngannou on Tuesday to hear his side of the story.


Published on January 16, 2023 at 11:52 pm
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