Francis Ngannou on UFC contract situation: ‘I don’t feel like a free man’

Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou defended his title for the first time in the UFC 270 main event on Saturday, but it doesn't seem to have improved his position with the fight promotion.

UFC president Dana White usually puts the belt around the waist of the champion following a title bout. On Saturday, he did not. Instead, UFC executive Mick Maynard strapped the belt on Ngannou. White also skipped out on the post-fight press conference altogether.

"I did not have anything to do about that. I think that was their decision. I'm about to ask about that too," Ngannou said during the event's post-fight press conference.

Ngannou defeated previously unbeaten interim titleholder Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision. The fight with Gane was Ngannou's final fight on his current UFC contract, but there is a "championship clause." Despite holding the heavyweight title, Ngannou isn't sure what his future is with the fight promotion.

"It's been a long time that I've been wondering about my future in the company, so nothing has changed. I'm still in the same position," Ngannou said.

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Ngannou and the UFC haven't been able to come to terms on a new deal, and they don't seem to be close to reaching an agreement.

"It's not simply money. Obviously, money is a part of it, but it's also the term of the contract. I don't agree with it. I don't feel like it's fair. I don't feel like I'm a free man. I don't feel like I've been treated good," Ngannou said.

"At the end of the day, we put a lot of work into this job. We take a lot in our body to make it happen. At least we can happen a fair and square deal."

"The Predator" believes that if he waits until the beginning of next year, his UFC contract will expire. And he's willing to wait it out.

"In the past three years, I've fought three times," he said. "So it wouldn't be something very strange."

"The only reason we are here, I think, is because at some point I wasn't respected. He (White) could have taken way less to get this deal done, but he went to like a power position and kind of get everybody frustrated. Get me frustrated. Get me to lose the feeling, the desire of doing things."

According to Ngannou, he has spoken to everyone that he could within the UFC to work things out. Talks ultimately failed.

"I've been going to the UFC a lot, so I kind of like exhaust all of my options," Ngannou said.

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