It looks like the UFC will have a new heavyweight champion come UFC 285. Fans were wondering for a long time about what is next for Francis Ngannou after sitting out almost a year due to knee injuries. While there were some reports that suggested Ngannou would return to action against Jon Jones in March, there is finally some clarity on the situation.
ESPN recently confirmed that UFC has decided to strip Francis Ngannou. Not only did the promotion strip him, but Ngannou is also a free agent. In a recent press conference, UFC President Dana White took the mic and revealed that the company will not negotiate a new deal the Francis. After almost 2 years of a tumultuous relationship, they are finally going their own separate ways.
While fans will truly miss Francis’ presence in the UFC, the company already has its next heavyweight title fight lined up. While it leaked early that Jon Jones would fight Ciryl Gane inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, there was no official confirmation. But the fans did not have to wait for too long as the company itself confirmed the news.
Ciryl Gane will face Jon Jones for the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285 💪 pic.twitter.com/iWy2MKMUiM
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 15, 2023
This means Jon Jones would finally return 3 years after his last bout against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. Ciryl Gane, on the other hand, beat Tai Tuivasa at last year’s UFC Paris. It will be Gane’s second title shot since his UFC 270 bout against Francis Ngannou. But it will be Jon’s first bout in the heavyweight division and he will have the chance to create history on his debut!
Is Francis Ngannou joining PFL?
Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones would have been the ultimate dream fight for the fans. However, with Francis officially out of the UFC, it will remain one of the dream fights that never took place. With his UFC run finally in the rearview mirror, fans would definitely want to know where Ngannou will fight next. Judging by the recent developments, it seems likely that Ngannou joins PFL.
The 36-year-old recently teased a move to PFL. In one of his Instagram posts, Ngannou shared a picture where one of his relatives was wearing a PFL shirt. Now that his UFC exit is official, it does seem like Ngannou is on his way to PFL. The MMA promotion also signed YouTuber Jake Paul recently and is planning to launch a “Super Fight” division.
What is interesting about that, is whatever revenue PFL generates via its PPVs, 50% of it will go to the fighters. Hence, there are chances that Ngannou makes much more money in PFL. However, it would depend on what amount of PPV the promotion sells. In a sense, Francis is betting on himself to increase his pay. He was paid less than $650,000 for his last fight at UFC 270.
Ngannou always felt that he deserved much more than what he actually earned in the UFC. The Predator accused UFC of holding its fights in captivity with unfair contracts. So his release seems like a good resolution for both parties. Ngannou can finally go and have the much-talked-about contest with boxing champ Tyson Fury without any legal hurdles.
How much money did Ngannou reject from the UFC?
Although the fans should have seen it coming, it still caught a lot of people off-guard. Francis Ngannou’s unceremonious exit from the company will definitely leave a lot of his fans disappointed. However, Dana White has revealed that he tried his best to make Ngannou stay. The 53-year-old even stated that his offer went as far as to make Ngannou the best-paid heavyweight in UFC history!
He said, “We offered Francis a deal that would have made him the highest heavyweight in the history of the company. More than (Brock) Lesnar, more than anybody and he turned the deal down.”
According to Bleacher Report, former UFC and WWE champ Brock Lesnar had a fight purse of 2.5 million for UFC 200. If Dana’s claims are to be believed, then Ngannou would have earned much more than that. However, there is no word on how much Francis was actually going to earn.
Dana further went on to claim that Francis Ngannou was looking to earn big paycheques while not necessarily fighting the best competition. According to the UFC president, Ngannou is convinced that there are more financially lucrative opportunities for him other than the UFC. Hence, Dana thinks Ngannou may have opted for the easy way out.
What are your thoughts on Francis Ngannou’s exit from the UFC? Let us know in the comments down below.