Randy Couture ‘proud’ of Francis Ngannou: UFC keeps numbers pretty close to their vest so they don’t have to negotiate

Francis Ngannou claims he was warned to “Go ask Randy Couture” years ago, while he was in the middle of contract talks with the UFC for a new deal and thinking about quitting the company to pursue free agency.

Famously, Couture took on the UFC a number of times over his contract. This also includes a legal dispute that took place between 2007 and 2008 as he sought to quit the organization in order to challenge fellow heavyweight star Fedor Emelianenko.

After allegedly spending $500,000 on legal expenses, Couture ultimately reached a settlement with the UFC and signed a new contract to rejoin the company. Since his retirement, he has taken the initiative to speak out against restrictive contracts and push for more financial transparency.

Couture claims that he never really talked to Ngannou about his own experience with the UFC despite the fact Ngannou trains in his gym – Xtreme Couture.

However, it doesn’t take much digging to find out about the well-publicized conflict he had with his former employers.

Couture was quoted saying:

“The history is there. When [Zuffa] bought the company, I took them to task over their ancillary rights and the crappy contract they were trying to force me to sign as their heavyweight champion. We asked and put some more clauses in there.”

“The upside to that is I got a much better deal moving forward. The downside is they closed a bunch of the loopholes in those crappy contracts and made it more difficult for other fighters moving forward.”

“I never spoke to Francis directly myself but obviously Eric [Nicksick] is our head coach and our gym manager [at Xtreme Couture] and he was directly responsible for helping Francis shore up his wrestling and training for those fights against Stipe [Miocic] and the other fights he had in the UFC.”

“I talked to Eric a lot about my position and where I stood. I was the only guy chirping back in ’06, ’07. Trying to get a better deal in [2001] when they bought the company. Fighting for my ancillary rights in all that stuff, the video games and all the other stuff that’s tied up in all of that.”

Ngannou just severed all connections with the UFC after he and the company were unable to agree on a new contract while he was still the heavyweight champion. UFC President Dana White said that the organization offered him a contract that would have made Ngannou the highest-paid heavyweight in the history of the sport.

Francis Ngannou expressed the need for greater flexibility in his future contracts. Ngannou also said that at times during the discussions, he felt as if the UFC was instructing him to “take the money and shut up.” However, he refused to give in to their demands.

Couture was aware from his own experiences that the UFC would never agree to some of his demands.

Couture also stated:

“The money they threw at Francis was pretty significant and probably as much as anybody’s gotten paid in our sport but it was the other things ­— health insurance, a fighter’s representative, some of those things that he asked for that were outside of that, that caused them to drop him. They don’t want to give up that power.”

“They don’t want to give up those things. They want to be able to control the fighters the way they want to control them. They don’t like that transparency. They keep those numbers pretty close to their vest so they don’t have to negotiate with fighters who know what their value is in the market place, that’s how that shakes out.”

As a member of the organization’s broadcast team, Couture is currently preparing for the upcoming PFL season as well as the PFL Challengers Series. Couture thinks Ngannou’s decision to leave the UFC while he was still the heavyweight champion was a significant step towards serious changes in the sport.