The business relationship between UFC and its heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou remains at a standstill, according to Ngannou's manager Marquel Martin. "The Predator" enters his headlining title fight against interim champion Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 on the last fight of his contract. Ngannou and UFC president Dana White do not appear to be close on a new deal.
White put much of the blame on Ngannou's management. Martin and the UFC boss publicly criticized each other in 2021. Martin, who represents Ngannou on behalf of CAA, revealed in a new interview that his team has not heard from the UFC in six months.
"From the beginning, we've always and still do remain, like, open to negotiating with UFC," Martin said on Sirius XM's "Throwing Down with Renee and Miesha". "At the end of the day, I work for Francis, and he and I spent a lot of time chatting back and forth and trying to understand, OK, exactly what does that mean for his future, and we've had a lot of back and forth with the UFC. But to be honest with you, I haven't heard back from the UFC since, I want to say June.
"Pretty much we all know that UFC, they hold a power position, rightfully so, and when it comes to representation like myself, and again, of course, I'm going to be biased, they're not going to like what we have to say about how Francis' future looks like and what that is valued at... So because of that, they've decided not to reach out. So I'm not sure if they want to negotiate a contract before [it runs out] or whatnot, but that's totally up to them."
Martin suggested that UFC brass has molded an environment where managers cannot advocate in the best interest of their fighters.
"What does representation look like in your mind, UFC? To say yes to every single thing that you do," Martin said. "Am I supposed to take you out to dinner, be your best friend? No, I have a fiduciary obligation to my client, and the facts are, OK, if you want to judge me and try to put me out of business for whatever reason and bully me publicly, I don't respond to that. CAA doesn't respond to that. We know how to do our job. We're very competent at what we do.
"Let me make this clear: It's not all about money... It is 1000 percent not all about money, and they know that. But at the end of the day, the UFC has a business model, that's how they run it with all their fighters. They can't put themselves in a situation to establish a precedent that negatively reflects [on] them, so that's kind of the rub."
White, in an interview with ESPN earlier this month, took a nonchalant approach to Ngannou's contract status.
"Yeah, that's super unfortunate to hear from your promoter, like, 'Hey, if you want to be here, great, if not, great,'" Martin said in response. "It's kind of sad, but I think the playbook has been written for many years, long before I started representing fighters, right? And if you're smart to look at how they operate and do things, one of the strategies – I feel, and I could be wrong - is they want to divide and conquer and try to put everything on the representation, and the last fighter was the fighter and he's on vacation and everything like that. It's just misinformed, unfortunately, and it's really sad, because at the end of the day, it's Francis that we're talking about."
H/T MMA Fighting