Things have deteriorated between Francis Ngannou and the UFC buyers who are now eager to get the heavyweight champion out of his UFC contract, even if it means walking away from millions of dollars.
Ngannou supposedly wants to sit out the remaining months of his deal – usually only as a result of the champion’s clause – and plans to pursue free agency. He wants to be released from the UFC’s restrictive contracts, not only to get a much better pay, but also to take more control of his career.
Dana White has criticized Ngannou’s management for these issues before, and it seems Chael Sonnen agrees. The former UFC star, who has previously sided with the promotion on issues like this, also thinks Ngannou is getting “bad advice”.
Sonnen says it’s “silly” without any guarantees to stick with the UFC and only hope that a boxing promoter is “willing to lose a ton of money” on him.
“I found [the post-fight comments] to be powerful, because I no longer think he’s bluffing. I really believe Francis is getting bad advice,” Sonnen said on his podcast (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “Wherever Francis thinks the world wants him to fight Tyson Fury, I don’t know who put that in his head. But that’s Francis’ dream, and I’d go too far to take it from him.
“If you’ve got a promoter who’s willing to lose a ton of money and throw it on that contest — and how they’re going to package it and how they’re going to sell it, I really don’t have the foggy idea — but if they want to do it “It’s their business, it’s not ours,” he said.
“It seems a very risky business, and even a folly, to insist on… [a Fury fight] if you don’t know you have a bird in your hand. Francis is active [in the UFC] is looking at six to nine million dollars this year. So his opportunity cost of waiting until December for a fight he doesn’t have is the bulk of your career earnings. That’s his decision.”
While praising the UFC brand, Sonnen also seemingly doubted the heavyweight star’s drawing ability.
“When December rolls around next year and Francis has been unseen, and Francis is no longer the undisputed champion and he no longer has the power of the organization behind him, the [likeliness] of a payday in boxing with Fury is decreasing exponentially,” Sonnen said. “That’s always hard to see.”
There are a few things to take from Sonnen’s statements, but the main thing is that Ngannou really wouldn’t last too long considering his knee injury. With the torn MCL and damaged ACL, Ngannou will be operated on and he will really be on the sidelines for a few months.
It’s also worth pointing out that if he stayed, Ngannou really wouldn’t get $9 million from the UFC this year either.
Even as a champion, he only had a $600,000 purse for UFC 270. If that event had sold 500,000 PPVs, Ngannou would have taken home another $400,000 at the standard rate. That’s only $1 million in total for a relatively large fight. So even if Ngannou came back from a knee injury faster than the 9-10 months they gave, he would still need a significant pay raise and multiple fights in quick succession to even reach that figure Sonnen put forward.
Add to that the fact that Ngannou has complained of inactivity and is only booked once a year lately, and it’s understandable how this becomes an easier decision for him to just recover and wait to really test his market value in free agency .