Francis Ngannou slams UFC over campaign to ‘discredit’ and ‘pressure’ him to sign a long-term extension

francis ngannou, ufc
Nov 24, 2018; Beijing, China; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) defeats Curtis Blaydes (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Cadillac Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou believes the promotion has tried to “discredit” him in recent months as part of a push to pressure him into signing a new long-term contract.

Ngannou (16-3) has made few public statements after the organization chose to make an interim-title fight in August at UFC 265, even though he was willing to defend his title for the first time in September. The UFC’s decision to reintroduce interim-gold confused many fans and seemed like a slap in the face to the new division king who had just won the title five months earlier by beating heavyweight GOAT Stipe Miocic at UFC 260.

Despite failed negotiations for his first title defense, the real point of contention for the Cameroonian behemoth wasn’t that an interim title bout was made, but his view the UFC tried to damage his reputation to market the UFC 265 main event. Ngannou claims the promotion looked to discredit him by making it seem like he wanted to go on “vacation” instead of defending the division championship.

Francis Ngannou slams UFC for campaign to ‘discredit’ him

“What bothers me is the fact that to promote that fight they were trying to discredit me and pretend, ‘If you want to go on vacation, keep yourself, and when you want to fight, we are here.’ No, I want to fight and I wasn’t on vacation,” Ngannou said during a guest appearance on The MMA Hour. “And they use a video from [UFC 265] Embedded to play that game, to pretend to discredit me and show that I was on vacation.

“That bothers me because that’s not right. I know that is not true, it’s just to discredit me, to control the narrative. I don’t have a problem if they want to do the interim, just do the interim without sabotaging me.”

Is the UFC trying to pressure Ngannou into a new contract?

francis ngannou, ufc
Jul 7, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) reacts after his bout against Derrick Lewis (blue gloves) during UFC 226 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

During the conversation on the popular podcast, “The Predator” spoke on the recent schism between him and his employer. In his opinion, the UFC’s problems stem from his decision to not sign a new contraction extension. Ngannou has not done so because of his belief that an offer has not yet been made that meets the terms he feels he deserves. Because of this, he thinks the UFC has tried applying pressure and using the champion’s clause in his current deal to force him into signing a new accord that he isn’t comfortable with.

“First of all, there is a champ clause and they’ve been trying to apply pressure with an extension, but I did not sign a new deal and I think that’s basically the issue. That’s what is causing all these issues because I don’t want to sign a new deal on certain terms,” said Ngannou.

“What doesn’t work for me, because I don’t feel protected in those terms– in the past two years I fought twice and I have to borrow money to live. Nobody cares about that. I have no guarantee and I have no protection, so based on that experience I want to get something better, better terms on my contract, and obviously paid what I deserve.”

Despite the recent issues, Ngannou is scheduled to return to the Octagon on Jan. 22 at UFC 270. On that night, he will meet interim champion Ciryl Gane in the main event of the pay-per-view card, as the pair look to unify the two existing heavyweight championships.

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