Dana White is still ‘hopeful and confident’ over new deal for UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou despite long-running row over contract
- Francis Ngannou is at loggerheads with the UFC over a new contract
- Heavyweight champion could leave without ever fighting for them again
- He is set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a knee injury
- But Dana White remains optimistic that terms can still be reached
UFC president Dana White remains ‘hopeful and confident’ that Francis Ngannou will sign a new deal with the UFC.
The heavyweight champion is one of the organisation’s biggest stars but could leave as a free agent without fighting again.
He beat Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 to retain his belt, doing so with a torn medial ligament and damaged cruciate ligament in his knee.
Dana White is optimistic that heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou will sign a new deal
Much was made of White’s absence when the time came to put the belt on the champion, but he later insisted he had left to deal with an issue in the back of the arena.
Ngannou claims his stance has seen him miss out on millions but he is refusing to budge with his demands.
Those are not simply financial and he wants the freedom to be able to compete in high profile boxing matches against the likes of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
It would be incredibly poor optics if the UFC are unable to secure Ngannou on a new deal, particularly given his remarkable rise to the top of the division.
White says he is ‘hopeful’ that an agreement will be reached between both parties
Ngannou defeated Ciryl Gane (left) to retain his heavyweight title at UFC 270
But White thinks there are reasons to be optimistic. He told ESPN: ‘Listen, in the history of this company, the only guy that we’ve ever not signed was Fedor [Emelianenko].
‘I mean, it’s the only guy we could never sign. So, you know, I’m hopeful and confident that we can get a deal done with Francis.’
Ngannou can use the argument that Conor McGregor was allowed the extra-curricular activity of boxing Floyd Mayweather.
And Kamaru Usman is also pushing for a fight with Canelo Alvarez. But the UFC could be fearful of setting a trend that ultimately diminishes their product over the long term.
Ngannou would have been out of contract if he’d have lost to Gane in January but the ‘champions clause’ triggered an automatic extra 12 months.
If he remains injured for the duration, which is a real possibility, then the UFC are likely to set up an interim title fight at some point this year.
Francis Ngannou has been embroiled in a pay dispute with the UFC for some time