UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou recently reflected on his experiences in 2023 and how he learned just how “nasty” the MMA promotion business can be.
In a video sposted on January 1st, 2024, Ngannou looked back on the controversy and uncertainty he faced in 2023 after choosing to walk away from the UFC when contract negotiations fell through. Many criticized his decision and claimed he was ruining his career.
However, Ngannou stuck to his choice, believing deeply in himself even without knowing what would come next. He signed an appealing contract with the PFL and their new PFL Africa venture, calling it “the most spendable contract in combat sports.”
Yet even then, doubters persisted, wanting Ngannou to fail and prove them right. Ngannou believes politics were playing against him, with certain entities wanting him not to fight at all.
Despite the obstacles, Ngannou secured the biggest fight of his career against Tyson Fury in October 2023. Though he didn’t get the win, Ngannou said 2023 offered him far more than he expected.
Reflecting on his tumultuous year, Ngannou said he learned just how nasty the MMA business can be. He stated:
“This year offered me a lot. A lot more than what I have expected and then I have been gratitude for this year. And for all the supporters or all the fans around the world, all those who stand by my side, all those who believe in me, all those believe in my dream, in my in my decision.”
He went on to say, “I learned this year how this business can be nasty. You will have people that pretend to be something, wish they are not. You will have a lot of things.”
Ngannou explained that most fighters don’t get educated on the promotion side of the sport. As a result, many continue getting “schooled” and taken advantage of.
By stepping up as a free agent, Ngannou got a crash course in the harsh realities of the business. Through questionable contract negotiations and subtle politics working against him, he experienced firsthand how cutthroat promotions can be.
Ngannou proved his worth in 2023, scoring the Fury fight and signing a massive PFL deal. As he heads into 2024, he wants to keep proving wrong the doubters who think he can’t thrive independently.
The MMA icon beat the odds in 2023 and sent a message about fighter rights. His reflections cast light on the dirty tactics some promotions use to control talent. Ngannou aims to keep overcoming politics and naysayers as he charts the rest of his fighting career.