The war of words between Dana White and his former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is showing little sign of slowing, even after Ngannou signed a deal last week to compete under the auspices of the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
Ngannou, who is the first UFC champion to leave the promotion since BJ Penn in 2004, confirmed last week that he had signed a bumper contract with the PFL to make him one of the most well-paid athletes in the history of mixed martial arts. White, speaking to the media last weekend, stated that the UFC had released Ngannou, a fighter who he had previously described as being “impossible” to work with.
But in a string of statements released on social media, Ngannou countered White’s claim that he had been released, saying that he was a free agent following the expiration of his UFC deal.
What is your problem with me?
1. I completed my contract, was a free agent, and chose to walk away. you didn’t release me
2. I hate taking risks? that’s why I defended my title to fulfill my contract with no acl or mcl?
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) May 21, 2023
“What is your problem with me?” Ngannou asked on Twitter, addressing White.
“1. I completed my contract, was a free agent, and chose to walk away. you didn’t release me. 2. I hate taking risks? that’s why I defended my title to fulfill my contract with no acl or mcl?
“3. The reason I fought three times in three years is because you wanted to control my deal and signs a new one. And freeze me out. ‘I owe these guys three fights a year.’ Isn’t that what you say? What happened? I always asked for & never said no to any fight in the 3 years.
“I’m finally getting paid and respected, and have a deal that’s fair and equal for all parties. Why are you so against me being free and happy?”
Ngannou bookmarked his riposte to White with another challenge to the man who replaced him at the summit of the UFC’s heavyweight mountain: “If you ever really want that Jon Jones fight to happen reach out to @PeteMurrayPFL. Whenever, wherever.”
White, traditionally opposed to cross-promotion ever since he took Chuck Liddell to Japan only to see him lose to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson under the PRIDE banner twenty years ago, is unlikely to take up that offer — but given the fallout between White and Ngannou, a Jones vs. Ngannou matchup likely now presents one of the most tantalising bouts that can be made in mixed martial arts.
But don’t hold your breath for that one to become a reality.