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- Cameroonian mixed martial artist
According to UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s representation, his negotiation troubles with the UFC is not all about the money.
Ngannou’s agent Marquel Martin of CAA Sports, addressed the ongoing back-and-forth with the promotion as his client is preparing to step inside the octagon at UFC 270 for a title unification bout against interim champion Ciryl Gane on the final fight of his current contract.
“UFC is the best promoter in the business,” Martin said on a recent episode of the Throwing Down Podcast with Renee Young and Miesha Tate. “However, where a lot of people don’t want to come out and say or mean, is it has to make sense for the client, right? It has to make sense for Francis.
“At the end of the day, I work for Francis. He and I spend a lot of time chatting back and forth and trying to understand, ‘Okay, what does that mean for his future.?’ We’ve had a lot of back and forth with the UFC, but to be honest with you, I haven’t heard back from the UFC since, I want to say, June.”
Ngannou was last in action at UFC 260 in March, when he defeated Stipe Miocic to become the heavyweight champion. He is scheduled to return to action in January to face Gane, who was crowned interim champion at UFC 265 by defeating Derrick Lewis. The interim title was created after negotiations between Ngannou and the UFC went awry, sparking a public spat between Martin and UFC president Dana White.
“Pretty much we know the UFC holds a power position, rightfully so,” Martin said. “When it comes to representation like myself, again, and of course, I’m going to be biased, they’re not going to like what we have to say about how Francis’ future looks like and what that is valued at. So, because of that, they’ve decided to not reach out, so I’m not sure if they want to negotiate a contract before or whatnot, but that’s totally up to them.”
Martin made it clear, from their side, the hold-up about a contract extension for his client is not all about financials, but also his activity not meeting expectations as compared to his peers.
"It's not ALL about the money."
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) December 28, 2021
“When have you really seen Francis have more than two fights in the last however many years, in one year?” Martin questioned. “He’s not as active as other heavyweights, why? Because of me? Because of him? That’s a lie. That’s just what it is. …I feel like having an interim title was their decision, but was it really valid or warranted? Was it necessary?”
Ngannou is focused on what he can control ahead of UFC 270. He recently told MMA Junkie he will do his best to make sure the contract negotiations will not be a distraction heading into the fight against Gane. If an extension does not happen before the fight, he will turn his focus to that afterward.