‘Power to just destroy you’: UFC champion unloads in ‘utterly surreal’ interview

One of the biggest stars of UFC is considering walking away after he unleashed at the sport for ripping him off.

TOPSHOT - UFC 270 heavyweight world champion Cameroon's Francis Ngannou (C) reacts on introduction for fight against France's Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on January 22, 2022. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
TOPSHOT - UFC 270 heavyweight world champion Cameroon's Francis Ngannou (C) reacts on introduction for fight against France's Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on January 22, 2022. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has slammed the UFC and says he is seriously considering leaving the sport, just days after defending his title.

The Cameroonian defended his belt with an impressive decision victory over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 on Sunday.

But discussion immediately turned to his future in the octagon after UFC boss Dana White snubbed Ngannou by opting not to enter the cage and put the belt around his waist, as is customary.

White also didn’t appear at the post-fight press conference, which he usually attends.

Bad blood had been simmering between Ngannou and White in recent months, after Ngannou expressed a desire for a better contract with the UFC, which would have expired had he lost to Gane.

He has also said he wants to pursue a boxing career and has been linked with Tyson Fury and Jake Paul, which didn’t sit too well with White.

Ngannou said while he wasn’t impressed with White’s blatant snub, he wasn’t fazed and was just happy to have won the fight.

“Bro, I don’t care about that — what’s the difference?” he told journalist Ariel Helwani in an expansive interview on the MMA Hour.

“I made my point. That could have not even bring the belt, I would be OK with it. I’m not here to go after another thing, this happened, that happened. I’m happy. That’s all that matters.”

Francis Ngannou’s UFC future is up in the air. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Francis Ngannou’s UFC future is up in the air. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Asked if UFC officials had got in touch with him after the fight, Ngannou replied: “You mean after leaving the arena without putting the belt on my waist and not showing up for the press conference? What do you think? No. No, no, no.”

Ngannou revealed after the bout he had completely torn his MCL just three weeks before the Gane fight and would “definitely” need surgery to repair his knee.

The win over Gane ensured his UFC contract was extended for another three fights or one year via the championship clause.

But it’s unclear if Ngannou will contest another UFC fight, after he said he is willing to sit on the sidelines until his contract expires if his grievances with the promotion aren’t addressed.

The 35-year-old earned US$600,000 (A$840,000) for his win over Gane but believes he has left around US$7 million (A$9.7million) on the table.

“Even when they’re trying to reach out for a deal, they came out with a good amount of money, but at this point that doesn’t even matter,” Ngannou said.

“I left all that down on the table. I’m taking my $600,000, I’m going there, I’m doing this and I’m winning everything.

There’s no love lost between Ngannou and UFC boss Dana White. (Photo by Logan Riely / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
There’s no love lost between Ngannou and UFC boss Dana White. (Photo by Logan Riely / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

“I left a lot more on the table. Overall, I’ve been leaving a lot of money on the table even since the Stipe (Miocic) fight. By now, I might be down $7 million that I left on the table, but I’m still happy with my $600,000, because I still fight for what I care for.”

But Ngannou said more money isn’t going to repair his relationship with the UFC, explaining he is unhappy with the terms of the contract, which does not include health insurance.

“The money was tempting, it was good, but this is not just about money,” he said.

“Just money cannot fix this situation. I don’t believe that.

“The term of the contract, everything that they put into, they hold you in captivity.

“You can’t do anything. You have no rights. The contract is one-sided, although you still don’t have nothing. You don’t even have health insurance, even while you’re putting your body on the line to provide to put on the show.

“You’re risking everything. There’s a lot of things. We have no insurance. Nothing. No guarantee, which I understand as an independent contractor, but treat me as such, if I am.

“Whether I’m going to be an employee or an independent contractor, make it very clear in the contract. It’s very mixed up.

“That’s probably the thing that I hated most about this, how they hold all the cards, the power to just destroy you. As soon as you don’t say yes, they just take you down.

“There’s something wrong with me with those kind of things, that I just can’t take it.”

Who knows if we’ll see Francis Ngannou in the octagon again? (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
Who knows if we’ll see Francis Ngannou in the octagon again? (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

Pundits were blown away by Ngannou’s honesty as he savagely unloaded on the UFC.

MMA Fighting’s Shaheen Al-Shatti tweeted: “What an utterly surreal interview. We’ve never seen anything quite like this.”

Despite the uncertainty over his contract, Ngannou is satisfied with everything he has done throughout his UFC career.

“Man, I’m happy,” he said.

“From where I came from, I have done a lot. Some people might not see that, but I have done it, and I’m very happy about that. I’m proud of myself, man.”

Ngannou’s future in UFC is up in the air but he isn’t concerned about the possibility he could be stripped of his heavyweight belt if he stays inactive for the remainder of his contract.

“I’m not worried about that, because at the end of the day, it’s just a belt,” he said.

“And as soon as they take the belt away, I’m a free agent.”

As for whether his future lies in UFC, boxing, or if he plans to go rogue and join another MMA promotion, Ngannou said the ball is in the UFC’s court.

“Good question,” he said. “Do the UFC still want me to fight there?

“You should ask them. They should be the one answering that question.”

Originally published as ‘Power to just destroy you’: UFC champion unloads in ‘utterly surreal’ interview