Dana White left little doubt that he wasn’t happy with the outcome of last night’s UFC 270 main event between heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane after leaving the arena after the fight rather than putting the belt on ‘The Predator’ as he would normally do, while also then no-showing the post-fight press conference.
There has been simmering tensions between Ngannou and White for quite some time now, largely due to the heavyweight champion’s future contract demands, which include not only a hefty pay increase but also being outspoken about his desire to have the option to take on boxing fights if he wants to – something that the UFC president is known to be against.
That left a lot riding on the outcome of last night’s blockbuster showdown with Ngannou’s former training partner Ciryl Gane, which was billed as one of the biggest heavyweight fights in the history of the sport between two fearsome strikers, but it’s fair to say no-one expected the clash to play out the way it did, with there being little in the way of notable striking action and Ngannou eventually wrestling his way to a decision victory to retain the title.
Ngannou had good reason to not fight in the explosive striking style that we’ve come to expect from him as he entered the Octagon on the night with knee braces on, and after the fight revealed that three weeks before the title clash he had suffered a grade 3 tear to his MCL and damaged his ACL, but had opted not to pull out of the fight.
Nevertheless, White’s post-fight actions speak louder than words and left Ngannou fielding awkward questions afterwards as his fighting future in the UFC hangs in the balance despite being the undisputed heavyweight king.
“I don’t know. You have to ask him,” Ngannou said when asked about White not sticking around to put the belt around his waist. “No, I did not have anything to do about that. I think that was their decision. I’m about to ask about that, too,” while also responding to the news of White’s presser no-show by saying, “Wow, OK, I didn’t know that, too.”
Ngannou went on to suggest that his current contract talks with the UFC were at an impasse with little sign of light at the end of the tunnel anyway.
“It’s been a long time I’ve been wondering about my future in the company,” Ngannou admitted. “So nothing has changed. I’m still in the same position.
“I’ve been going to the UFC a lot so I’d kind of like exhausted all my options.”
And he also explained why he is still adamant that his contract demands must be met before he’d be willing to commit his future to the UFC.
“It’s not simply money,” Ngannou said. “Obviously money is part of it but it’s also the term of the contract that I don’t agree with it. I don’t feel like it’s fair. I don’t feel like I’m a free man. I don’t feel like I have been treated good. It’s unfortunate I have to be in this position to be able to say that but I think it’s something that everybody should at least have the right to claim for what’s best for him.
“At the end of the day, we put a lot of work in this job. We take a lot on our body to make it happen. So at least we can have a fair and square deal.”
As things stand there’s a rumor that Ngannou may opt to sit out the remainder of his UFC contract, which will conclude at the end of the year, and when that was suggested to him last night he said little to suggest that wasn’t his intention.
“In the past three years, I have fought three times so what does that mean? Once a year?” the 35-year-old Ngannou said. “So it wouldn’t be something strange.
“I’m not frustrated about anything. I’m at peace with myself and my decisions.”
Despite all the bad blood though, Ngannou hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility that he might still remain in the UFC, but it seems that the ball is very much now in the UFC’s court to meet his demands.
“I’ve expressed my willingness to stay in the UFC, to have a contract just to be respected,” Ngannou said. “The only reason why were are here, I think, is because at some point, I wasn’t respected. [Dana] could have taken way less to get this deal done but he went to a power position and got everybody frustrated, get me frustrated, get me to lose the desire of doing things.
“I get in this sport, I didn’t grow up dreaming about this sport. I just got into it because it was fun and all that stuff. Then you get to the point that you’re kind of find yourself at that point in the sport where it’s not fun, which is frustrating. It kind of messes with your mind. But I’m pretty good trying to stay focused, just think about the sport and nothing around it and hope that things are going to go right.”