The former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou seems to be walking down a path of thorns ever since he became a free agent in January 2023. ‘The Predator’ let his UFC contract expire, despite still holding the heavyweight belt. Since then, the 36-year-old has expressed interest in fighting for several other combat sports organizations.
In his quest for big-money fights, the Cameroonian-Frenchman even entered the ring to have a face-off with Tyson Fury, however, no signed contracts came out of it. Even Bellator president Scott Coker and BKFC chief David Feldman questioned Ngannou’s financial demands not too long ago.
Last month, Francis stated he was in “serious” talks with ONE FC, the Singapore-based MMA organization. The company’s president, Chatri Sityodtong confirmed the same on The MMA Hour. He stated that he was looking forward to meeting the heavyweight giant in person to “give him the biggest offer on the table out of all his bids.”
Chatri Sityodtong says ONE won’t submit their “final offer” to Francis Ngannou after meeting.
📰 https://t.co/rJIvCwKQLT pic.twitter.com/n2vQOFrcHf
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) May 1, 2023
Unfortunately, the deal seems to have fallen apart, based on Chatri’s recent comments about the potential signing. On Monday, the 53-year-old CEO told South China Morning Post (SCMP) that they have decided to withdraw from the process of bidding for Francis’ services.
“After careful reflection, we decided not to submit our final offer,” added Chatri. “Francis is a good guy and a good champion. I wish him continued success and happiness. At the end of the day, I didn’t feel Francis and I were fully aligned on non-financial matters. It is nothing personal. It is just a lack of alignment.”
Chatri didn’t reveal any further details of the conversation and what led to the final decision. It is worth noting that ‘The Predator‘ had reportedly also turned down a multi-fight UFC deal worth $8 million to fight Jon Jones, who claimed the vacated belt in March.
Conor McGregor backs Francis Ngannou
As soon as it surfaced online, the news of Francis’ failed bid with ONE FC seemed to amass mixed reactions from the MMA community. So much so that it caught the Irish megastar Conor McGregor‘s attention as well. The 34-year-old, in a now-deleted tweet, said “This chatri guy is a lying dishonorable mouth piece. One championship is not one worth one cent.”
It is still unclear what fumed the former two-division champion to make such a post. As per the tweet, Conor seems to throw shade at the ONE FC CEO for not meeting Francis’ financial demands, while calling him an alleged liar.
Conor McGregor feels Francis Ngannou “made an error,” wishes him well. #TheMMAHour
“I wasn’t sure why he done that to be honest. It kind of took the shine off him how it went.”
▶️ https://t.co/R4rcd96cEy pic.twitter.com/87qmK8Rbdx
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 16, 2023
It is worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time Conor has touched upon Ngannou’s exit from the Las Vegas-based promotion. In his recent appearance on The MMA Hour, ‘The Notorious’ said, “I thought he made an error, to be honest. I wasn’t sure why he done that, to be honest.”
On Monday, MMA journalist Ariel Helwani explained to the viewers about a phone conversation he had with Francis Ngannou earlier yesterday. He stated that the former UFC heavyweight is almost on the verge of signing a deal with a different promotion, which involves “an MMA component and a boxing component.”
Ariel Helwani reached out to Francis Ngannou this morning to get his side of the story.#TheMMAHour pic.twitter.com/dInsw79awY
— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) May 1, 2023
“Francis is very close to signing a new deal with another promotion,” said Helwani. He alleged that Chatri may have used this opportunity to give a slightly different version of the story. Ariel insinuated that since Francis had almost committed to the said deal, Chatri didn’t want it to appear as if his team was too late to bid for Ngannou.
While these are all speculations, fans now await to hear Francis’ side of the story. What do you make of Chatri’s claims? Let us know in the comments down below.