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Francis Ngannou didn’t want to be ‘trapped’ by UFC contract

Jan 22, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Francis Ngannou speaks with media following his championship victory at UFC 270 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Four days after UFC president Dana White announced that Francis Ngannou was released by the promotion, leaving the heavyweight championship vacant, Ngannou took to YouTube on Wednesday to offer his side of the story.

In a video titled “Why I left the UFC,” Ngannou disputed much of what White stated.

“They … said that I’m scared of fighting Jon Jones or somebody else, which I don’t know where they came from with that one,” Ngannou said. “That sounds very ridiculous, in my opinion, with all due respect. Because I’ve been calling for this fight for over two years. I’ve been waiting for this fight forever.

“And I’ve been fighting guys even with one knee, with injury. And now, why do I be scared of them? While I feel even more confident? No, I’m not scared.

“The only thing that I’m scared of is to be trapped. Is not to lose my freedom, which I value very much. You guys know how the UFC contract can be: restrictive. As an independent contractor, you don’t really have a say in that contract. You don’t even have a right, so, I can’t do that.”

While White said the UFC released Ngannou from his contract and waived accompanying rights, Ngannou said in an interview with “The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani” on Tuesday that his contract expired in December, leaving him free to explore other opportunities.

Ngannou said in his video, “It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t come to a term. I wish we could have, but it is what it is. As an independent contractor, I have to look up to myself, and do what’s right for me, and everyone out there should do the same for themself.”

Ngannou added that he might look to transition to boxing. He told Helwani that he would be open to opposing boxing stars Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

As for the upcoming UFC fight that will fill his former undisputed heavyweight championship, Ngannou said, “I want to share my excitement for the heavyweight fight between Jon Jones and Cyril Gane. It’s going to be a very exciting fight, I’m going to be watching that fight, but we all know the term ‘undisputed’ mean nothing here. Yes, it really means nothing.”

Ngannou, a 36-year-old Cameroon native, owns a 17-3-0 career record. He beat Stipe Myocic in March 2021 to claim the UFC heavyweight championship, then successfully defended his title against Gane in January 2022.

–Field Level Media