UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is willing to sit out the rest of 2022 if he beats Ciryl Gane and can’t come to terms with his promoter on a new contract that will bump his pay and allow him to box.
Ngannou on Thursday told ESPN.com he believes he has fulfilled his current contract with the UFC when he faces interim champ Ciryl Gane in a title unifier at UFC 270 on Jan. 22. But he also acknowledges a champion’s clause could delay his next move, whatever that might be.
The only thing he’s certain of is that things have to change.
“No, I will not fight for $500,000, $600,000 any more,” said Ngannou when asked if he would fight under the terms of an extended contract with the UFC. “I mean, it’s over. It’s over. I just did this. I took this fight for a personal reason, and I want to make sure that regardless, even if it’s unfair, I have been wrongly treated, I can make my case to say I have completed the eight fights. But no.”
Ngannou said he signed a deal with the UFC in December 2017 – prior to his first heavyweight title shot in a fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 – that had a five-year term. However, he said the champion’s clause in his contract also states that should he hold the title at its expiration, he would be bound to the promotion for one year or three fights.
“That all makes me think it’s optional,” Ngannou said.
Ngannou seemed unclear on his status given the contract’s overall term and the champion’s clause, at one point saying he wouldn’t be under contract until January 2023 “because the global of the UFC contract from the beginning to the end, it cannot pass five years.”