Francis Ngannou claims UFC threatened to sue over alleged Jake Paul talks

Ngannou has said that his agent was threatened just hours before his fight with Cyril Gane at UFC 270

Harry Latham-Coyle
Tuesday 25 January 2022 09:10 GMT
<p>Francis Ngannou has alleged that UFC threatened to sue his agent </p>

Francis Ngannou has alleged that UFC threatened to sue his agent

Francis Ngannou has alleged that UFC threatened to sue the heavyweight’s agent just hours before his fight with Cyril Gane at UFC 270.

The French-Cameroonian heavyweight says that Marquel Martin, who works for industry giants Creative Artists Agency (CAA), received an email from UFC accusing him of discussing a potential boxing match with representatives of Jake Paul.

The organisation alleged that Martin had been in talks with Nakisa Bidarian, Paul’s business partner, as speculation continues over Ngannou’s future in combat sports.

“I walked into the [dressing] room waiting for my manager, my coach,” Ngannou said on “The MMA Hour.”

“And they were like, ‘Wow.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ They told me they just received an email from the UFC saying they’re going to sue [Martin] for talking with this guy, Nakisa.

“Yeah. I’m like, ‘Who is Nakisa?’ I wouldn’t recognize him if you put him in front of me.”

Bidarian is the former chief financial officer of UFC who now advises Paul and is the co-founder of the YouTuber’s Most Valuable Productions company.

Paul has a 5-0 professional record, though is yet to fight an established boxer in the ring.

An exhibition bout with Ngannou, who unified the heavyweight title with a unanimous decision victory against Gane, has been mentioned as a possibility, while Paul has also suggested that he will lobby for UFC fighters to receive better pay.

Ngannou has been in a talks with UFC over a new contract but wishes to be allowed to compete as a boxer alongside his MMA fights.

This is something that the UFC has not typically permitted. Victory over Gane triggered an extension of the 35-year-old’s existing deal by a year, or three fights if they are arranged to take place in less than the 12-month period.

Ngannou suggested that he and UFC remain at an impasse, accusing the organisation of holding fighters in “captivity” and not allowing them to fight freely.

“It doesn’t look like they want to talk to me anymore,” Ngannou explained. “The term of the contract, everything that they put into [it], they hold you like in captivity.

“You can’t do anything, you have no rights. The contract is one-sided. ... You don’t even have health insurance while you’re doing this, putting your body on the line to put on the show. Risking everything.

“I just want to be free. We are supposedly independent contractors. [An] independent contractor is technically a free person.

“That’s the reason why they need some adjustments in that contract. That’s what I’ve been fighting for.”

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