For the first time there are suggestions of optimism surrounding the possibility of heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou signing a new deal with the UFC.
And perhaps significantly it’s not just Ngannou’s manager, Marquel Martin, who sounds more positive about the possibility of Ngannou staying with the promotion, but also Dana White too.
“They have a longstanding relationship,” Martin said on Ngannou’s YouTube channel. “They’ve done a great job in promoting Francis. Francis has done a great job in promotion the UFC, or representing the UFC and himself.
“There’s no reason why a deal can’t and shouldn’t be done. As long as it’s fair, as long as it’s reasonable, and beneficial to both sides, I’m optimistic that Francis will re-sign with the UFC.”
There have been some major stumbling blocks on this path towards a new deal, including Ngannou’s insistence that he also be allowed to take boxing matches while signed to the UFC, so it’ll be interesting to see whether any compromises are being made, but for now Dana White seems confident that a deal is close to be being completed.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction with Francis,” White told ESPN. “There’s no doubt about it that this is where Francis should be, and Francis should finish his legacy here at the UFC and I think we’re pretty close to getting it done.”
Even Ngannou himself appears eager to get back into the Octagon, amid rumors that a decision could be made within days.
“I get back there, I feel like I still have a lot to do,” Ngannou said on YouTube. “I still enjoy it. I love it. This, this is hard, but it’s where I want to be. This is what I want to do. I don’t want to do anything else.
“I’m very excited about it, to see how it’s going to come out. Being out a year now, almost a year, I want it. I want to go back there.”