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Why did Francis Ngannou leave the UFC?

10 months ago By Sports Desk

Francis Ngannou is undeniably one of the most feared heavyweight fighters in mixed martial arts. The former UFC heavyweight champion, who became a household name after his historic title win over Stipe Miocic, shockingly left the UFC in January this year. This article closely examines Ngannou’s exit and why he chose to leave the promotion.

Ngannou’s UFC career

Francis Ngannou began his professional journey in November 2013 and stacked up a record of 5-1 before the UFC signed him in 2015. Following an emphatic second-round TKO victory on his debut, Francis Ngannou went on an incredible five-fight winning streak which saw him beat world-class heavyweights like Curtis Blaydes, Andrei Arlovski, and Alistair Overeem. 

His unbeaten run came to an end after he lost his title bid via a unanimous decision loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220. However, Ngannou bounced back with another win over Curtis Blaydes and went on a four-fight win streak to earn a shot at Miocic again.

At UFC 260, Francis Ngannou redeemed his first unsuccessful title bid via a second-round knockout over Stipe Miocic to become the UFC heavyweight champion. He then defended his title once against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January 2022. 

Ngannou’s Surprise UFC Exit

Francis Ngannou sent shockwaves through the MMA community when UFC president Dana White announced the Cameroonian’s departure from the promotion on January 14 earlier this year. 

After his first successful title defense, Francis Ngannou took some time off to recover from injuries he suffered during his training camp. While he did not fight that year, he was in the process of negotiating contract renewal terms with the UFC executives. However, the two parties failed to find a middle ground during their talks. 

The promotion ultimately decided to strip Ngannou of his title and waive its one-year matching rights clause, making Ngannou an unrestricted free agent in mid-December. 

Why Francis Ngannou Left The UFC

After the shocking announcement, Francis Ngannou revealed that while the UFC offered him record-breaking amounts of money for a new deal, his demands were beyond just money. 

Going into the negotiations with the UFC, Ngannou asked the promotion to allow all fighters to get in-cage sponsorships and give them health insurance. He also wanted an athlete representative in place to help fighters. Apart from that, Francis Ngannou also wanted the freedom to pursue his boxing dreams outside the UFC independently and the promotion to waive its exclusive negotiating window following the duration of the contract. 

When the UFC refused to agree to these demands, Francis Ngannou decided not to renew his contract. He was subsequently stripped of his title and became the first reigning champion to leave the UFC since B.J. Penn in 2004.  

Conclusion

Francis Ngannou is undoubtedly one of the greatest heavyweights in MMA, and his incredible journey in the UFC justified his moniker, ‘The World’s Baddest Man.’ Ngannou exited the UFC earlier this year due to unresolved contract disputes and was stripped of his title. In May, Francis Ngannou announced that he had signed a historic deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL). 

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