Francis Ngannou and his agent say they were caught off guard by Monday’s announcement of an interim heavyweight title fight, which sparked a heated exchange over social media with UFC president Dana White.
UFC 265 now has a location and a headliner, as Ciryl Gane will take on Derrick Lewis in Houston on Aug. 7.
White has recently stated that Lewis would be the next opponent for Ngannou, but the announcement of an interim title fight confirms those plans are no longer in place, much to the surprise of the champ and his representation.
Ngannou’s agent, Marquel Martin of CAA Sports, released a statement to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, which was posted on Instagram.
This comes as a complete chock. To make an interim title so soon, if you look at the history of this division, it comes as a surprise. Francis is just now returning to the States to begin training, and he just won the title three months ago. We’re unsure of what the resoning is behind this, but we hope to get clairty soon and figure out something with the UFC soon. At the end of the day, they’re in control of these actions.”
White relayed a fiery response to the statement in the comments of the post.
“This dude is SO FULL OF SH*T!!!” White wrote in his reply. “He knows EXACTLY what’s going on and isn’t “shocked” at all. Because we told him several times this was coming. His Management is incompetent and hopefully Francis starts taking a look at new people to help his career.”
Moments later, Martin replied with a lengthier response, challenging White to reveal text messages and emails to prove who was telling the accurate story.
“Complete shock with your decision after we said September was good for us?” Martin questioned. “Complete shock that you guys made threats after less than three months after you all were aware. Complete shock after you knew why Francis needed more time. That is correct. I know you’re passionate but you trying to discredit my integrity when I’ve been nothing but respectful to you, Hunter (Campbell), and your entire staff? Speaks more about you than it does me. I’m not even mad, I’m actually impressed that I’ve gotten your attention.
“Incompetent management? I think we’ve done a damn good job. I think you REALLY don’t like the fact that Francis is being represented by not only me but an entire agency…one of which you can’t control. Hence why you have people trying to rep him all the time to your benefit. I tell you what, let’s disclose EVERYTHING for people to see. Emails, calls, texts, everything. Deal?? Cuz I’m ready to get blackballed by the UFC…I’m not defined by it, you or anyone else for that matter. How’s that sound. Sincerely, your old employee – Marquel Martin.”
The champ showed approval of his agent’s reply by simply dropping a “100” emoji underneath his statement.
Shortly thereafter, Ngannou’s head coach, Eric Nicksick of Xtreme Couture, tweeted and deleted screenshots in support of Martin, showing a text conversation revolving around Ngannou agreeing to fight on Sept. 25.
For now, it appears the UFC is moving forward with the heavyweight division by crowning a new interim champion, while there are tensions between Ngannou and his team.