Daniel Cormier lauds Francis Ngannou for ‘setting a new standard’ in free agency: ‘It makes MMA feel real’
Now Daniel Cormier is applauding Francis Ngannou for raising the bar when it comes to free agency in mixed martial arts.
Ngannou failed to come to terms on a new deal with the UFC after some of his requirements weren’t met, and he elected to sign with the PFL – a deal that allows him to box and givse him equity and a leadership role within the promotion. It was a lengthy process, but Ngannou stuck to his guns and wound up in an organization that met his terms.
“I want to make sure that we communicate to the world that this is not a normal situation,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC.” “We’re talking about the heavyweight champion. You always knew that if anyone was going to set the standard for what is out there as a free agent, it was gonna be Francis. The moment he announced that he was gonna be moving on, you knew that the standard and the bar would be set by Francis.
“So any athlete can’t just go, ‘I’m going to go and do something different because Francis Ngannou did something different.’ They have to have leverage. Ultimately that leverage Francis had was winning that fight in Anaheim and beating Ciryl Gane and walking away with the championship. He used it to try to accomplish something good.”
Outside of a good deal for himself, Ngannou insisted to look out for his future opponents. Ngannou said he negotiated an undisclosed minimum purse for his fights, as well as a minimum of $2 million for his opponents. He will earn half the pay-per-view profits competing in the PFL’s superfight division and have the flexibility of his own in-cage sponsors. Ngannou also will serve on the PFL advisory board to represent fighter interests.
“He feels like he can elevate the other fighters through his actions,” Cormier said. “Francis has a stipulation in his contract, at least it is thought to be that even his opponents are getting a bump in pay. It’s not just Francis getting money. The guy that gets to fight Francis gets a payday that may even equal out to a million dollars. There are guys that never would make a million dollars, but if you step in there with Francis Ngannou, you can make a million dollars. There are very few people that can move the needle like that for themselves and for their opponents.”
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Cormier, who was a strong advocate for Ngannou vs. Jon Jones, suggested earlier this month that Ngannou “bite the bullet” and return to the UFC. Now he wonders if PFL will have the same roster depth as the UFC. But Cormier also acknowledges that there could be someone who ends up being a surprise challenger for “The Predator.”
“There is no organization that has talent on par with the UFC as a whole,” Cormier said. “But there are outliers out there in the world where guys can really compete. You’re seeing that now in Bellator. You saw it in Strikeforce because when all the Strikeforce people came, they became champions. Myself, Ronda Rousey, Luke Rockhold, Robbie Lawler, all these fighters came over and became champions. So, we always could compete. I think they have these outliers. To believe that Francis Ngannou is going to fight lesser competition is gonna be very difficult to prove, because it is tough out there.
“There are fighters out there that can challenge you out in the world of mixed martial arts. As a whole, UFC is where it’s supposed to be, but Francis Ngannou has set a new standard. It kind of feels like go play less golf for more money … big deal for Francis Ngannou. Congratulations to the former UFC heavyweight champion on really setting a new standard for what is out there in the free-agent market. It feels real after this one. It makes MMA feel real after seeing what Francis Ngannou just did.”