Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is in the news this week after ONE Championship founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that his organization would be pulling out of negotiations to sign the knockout artist. While Ngannou sent out a tweet insinuating Chatri is two-faced, and his number one public supporter, Ariel Helwani, is furiously coping about the news (his co-host made the ridiculous assertion that Ngannou could still end up signing the most lucrative deal in combat sports history), we need to just come out and say it: Francis Ngannou has fumbled the bag in a major way here. While it appears Ngannou is likely headed to PFL, this isn’t a win, and I’ll explain why.

It is important to remember that prior to leaving the UFC, Ngannou was offered a three fight deal which would pay about eight million dollars per fight, the most lucrative deal in UFC heavyweight history. Ngannou, however, made demands that the company simply could not ever agree to, as he revealed on The MMA Hour hosted by Ariel Helwani, where he also revealed that he does not even have a manager. Firstly, he demanded that the entire roster be given health insurance, a practice not offered by any major fight promotion in the world, and it is worth noting here that the UFC does already cover injuries sustained during fights, just not those that occur outside of the octagon. The second demand, and the one seemingly most important to him, was that Ngannou would be allowed to take boxing matches during the course of the deal. You know, like Conor McGregor… one of the most famous people on planet earth… who consistently sold well over a million pay per views for the better part of his career. You may be starting to see the problem here, but if you want some direct number comparisons, McGregor’s fight vs. then lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (the one 9 months before fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match) sold 1.3 million pay per views. Ngannou’s most recent fight against Cyril Gane (more than 14 months ago now) sold around 300 thousand.

Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou face off in the ring

Ngannou even stated the boxers he’d like to face, namely Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua. Regardless of the fact that Ngannou would almost certainly be embarrassingly defeated in such a contest, it appeared that now that his UFC career was behind him he was fully set on pursuing a boxing career. So what has happened to these three fighters in the meantime? Well, all of them have booked fights with other boxers. Unfortunately, this was very predictable. Why would three of the most highly ranked boxers in the world waste a fight in their prime and risk a fluke loss to fight a guy who didn’t even draw big numbers when he was the UFC heavyweight champion?

So with boxing a no-go, Ngannou was forced to begin negotiating with MMA organizations. ONE Championship would likely have been the best fit with its dominance in the massive Asian market and mixing of different combat sports under one banner. Unfortunately, he brought the same delusional hardball negotiating tactics that he had with the UFC. According to Chatri Sityodtong, Ngannou turned down a twenty million offer and demanded both a seat on the company board and to be able to determine the pay of his opponents. With this being an absurd demand, Ngannou is left with the PFL. And this is really the disappointing part for us as fans. We could have had Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones, now we can see Ngannou fight…. Ante Delija? And this isn’t even bringing in the fact that PFL has neither the budget nor promotional capability to pay as much as either the UFC or ONE, and that Ngannou is already 36 years old with bad knees. He likely has two to three years left max, and it seems likely we’ll never get to see him fight elite competition again.

As always feel free to leave a comment. Do you agree that Ngannou has fumbled the bag or do you think he’ll still get that Tyson Fury match somehow? Are your friends and family all dying to see Francis Ngannou fight Ante Delija?

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