The UFC have set the cat amongst the pigeons by announcing an interim heavyweight title fight between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 after current champion Francis Ngannou turned down the chance to defend his belt against ‘The Black Beast’ in August.
The unexpected announcement appears to have caught Ngannou’s manager, Marquel Martin of CAA Sports completely off-guard and he’s since become embroiled in a public feud with the UFC president over the decision.
“This comes as a complete chock,” Martin wrote on Instagram. “To make an interim title so soon, if you look at the history of this division, it comes as a surprise. Francis is just now returning to the States to begin training, and he just won the title three months ago. We’re unsure of what the resoning is behind this, but we hope to get clairty soon and figure out something with the UFC soon. At the end of the day, they’re in control of these actions.”
Never one to hold back, Dana White then lashed out at Martin in a comment to his original post.
“This dude is SO FULL OF SH*T!!!” White responded. “He knows EXACTLY what’s going on and isn’t “shocked” at all. Because we told him several times this was coming. His Management is incompetent and hopefully Francis starts taking a look at new people to help his career.”
Martin wasn’t in a mood to back down however and instead wrote a long reply in which he claimed they’d offered to fight in September and also claimed he would be willing to share every detail of his negotiations with the UFC to prove his side of the story.
“Complete shock with your decision after we said September was good for us?” Martin wrote. “Complete shock that you guys made threats after less than three months after you all were aware. Complete shock after you knew why Francis needed more time. That is correct. I know you’re passionate but you trying to discredit my integrity when I’ve been nothing but respectful to you, Hunter (Campbell), and your entire staff? Speaks more about you than it does me. I’m not even mad, I’m actually impressed that I’ve gotten your attention.
“Incompetent management? I think we’ve done a damn good job. I think you REALLY don’t like the fact that Francis is being represented by not only me but an entire agency…one of which you can’t control. Hence why you have people trying to rep him all the time to your benefit. I tell you what, let’s disclose EVERYTHING for people to see. Emails, calls, texts, everything. Deal?? Cuz I’m ready to get blackballed by the UFC…I’m not defined by it, you or anyone else for that matter. How’s that sound. Sincerely, your old employee – Marquel Martin.”
Not finished there, Martin also wrote a post on MMAJunkie’s Instagram page.
“For the record, I am NOT trying to make this about me, but like any Man or woman should, I will always defend myself and my integrity against those who seek to shame me. This is probably the first time many of you are even hearing my name. That’s by design- clients should and always come first. I apologize if it seems otherwise but my clients know that I will support them NO MATTER what. I am not perfect nor do I claim to be. I do not care to be the best manager in MMA, this sh*t doesn’t define me. I’m the best f*cking version of me, period. If you can’t respect that, you’re entitled to your opinion. But I will leave this here and say, I will not let a man discredit my name and what I stand for. I’ve worked too hard in life to allow that. And yes I’m fully aware of any blackballing or threats that may come my way from @danawhite or UFC. He knows me, he knows my number. Happy to settle this direct instead of IG, but he began the defaming. Anyways, regardless of this, I’m moving forward (unless belittled again) and I (along with his rep team) will do the very best we can we can to Francis and all our clients with fairness, integrity and the highest of standards. Personally this is what I’d love to see throughout the sport. Thank you all and God bless. Speak soon🙏🏾.”
So, in the space of just a few months the top end of the heavyweight division has become a huge headache for the UFC, with Jon Jones already embroiled in an ongoing pay dispute with White over his potential blockbuster fight against Ngannou, and ‘The Predator’ himself and his management team also now at loggerheads with him too.
White is certainly no stranger to feuding with high-profile stars, but hopefully this latest fallout won’t drag on for too long as there’s a lot of big fights still waiting to be made.