Dana White Shares Francis Ngannou Update About UFC Return

UFC, Dana White, Francis Ngannou

Getty Dana White.

UFC president Dana White shared the recent development in the company’s ongoing negotiations with Francis Ngannou.

Reigning UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou has been on the sidelines since his last outing against Ciryl Gane in Jan. at UFC 270. Ngannou utilized a surprisingly grappling-heavy approach to shut down the striking expert Gane’s game plan. He came out on top of the judges’ scorecards after going the full distance by unanimous decision to hand ‘Bon Gamin’ the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts career.

Following the result, Ngannou revealed he suffered a horrific knee injury that almost forced him to pull out of the fight. He underwent surgery for his MCL and ACL after tearing them a month before the title unification match.

‘The Predator’ was expected to sit out the rest of the year in recovery. There was speculation about whether he would make another appearance under the UFC banner following months of a public feud between the promotion and its heavyweight king.

White Says Things Are Heading in the Right Direction

Ngannou was adamant about getting a better deal from the UFC, calling for a bump in pay and a non-exclusive term that would see him compete outside of the promotion, ideally in mega crossover boxing matches.

In an interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, White gave his take on where the organization was with Ngannou.

“I think that we are heading in the right direction with Francis,” said White. “There’s no doubt about it that this is where Francis should be, and Francis should finish his legacy here at the UFC. I think we’re pretty close to getting it done.”

White got asked about the importance of a showdown between Ngannou and Jon Jones. Although White gave a positive sign, he added that he would not mind letting of a partnership that was not mutual.

“Here’s my philosophy, we do everything we can to keep a guy that we want, but the reality is if you don’t want to be here, we don’t want you here either. I’m not saying that in a negative way; it just doesn’t work if we’re not all in. We are either all in or we’re not.

“If you want to be with us and you want to be here, you want to be a part of what we’re doing here; we want you here too. And if you don’t, then it’s mutual. There’s no problem with that. You can move on and do your thing.”

White Referenced the Departure of Nate Diaz From the UFC

Grizzled veteran Nate Diaz stood out as one of the biggest stars in the sport. He completed the final bout on his contract against Tony Ferguson in Sep. at UFC 279, where he scored a fourth-round submission win to leave the company on a high note.

White referenced Diaz’s exit from the UFC to reiterate his stance of having no problems letting someone who does not want to be there go.

“You get some of these guys that have made a ton of money with us; they become famous and all the things that go along with being in the UFC. They get to the point where they’re like, ‘I’d like to test free agency, get out there and poke around. See what I’m worth and what I can do.’ Like Nate Diaz. No problem. It’s all good. 

“I saw Nate at the fights, Nate’s great, and we’ve had a lot of fun with Nate; it’s been great. But the day comes when people want to… there’s guys that say, ‘I’ll never leave the UFC. I want to be here for the rest of my career.’ There’s guys like, ‘eh, let me see what I can do.’“

“100 percent Nate could be back, and he’s welcome to be back. We like Nate, and it’s just very mutual. If you don’t want to be here, I don’t think you should be.”

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