Francis Ngannou has revealed that the UFC threatened to sue his manager Marquel Martin because the latter was purportedly in talks with Jake Paul’s manager Nakisa Bidarian regarding a potential boxing match for Ngannou.
In an edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, 'The Predator' explained that he isn’t well-acquainted with Bidarian or Paul. Regardless, opening up about his manager being threatened by the UFC, Ngannou stated:
“Going into this [UFC 270] fight, going into the arena, like, I dress up, I put my suit, and I walk to my room, waiting for my manager and my coach. And they were like, ‘Wow!’ And I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ They told me that they just received an email from the UFC saying that they’re going to sue him [Marquel Martin] from talking with this guy Nakisa [Bidarian]. Yeah. And I’m like, ‘Who’s Nakisa?’ They was telling, ‘I don’t know him pretty much, but somebody from Jake Paul’s team.’”
Additionally, Francis Ngannou seemingly asked his team whether Nakisa Bidarian was a promoter. ‘The Predator’ then indicated that Bidarian wasn’t a promoter but reiterated that his manager (Martin) was indeed in talks with Bidarian, who represents Jake Paul.
Furthermore, Helwani questioned Ngannou about the racist text message Marquel Martin received that was purportedly regarding the ongoing contract negotiation issues between him (Ngannou) and the UFC. 'The Predator' replied by saying:
“I don’t know. I think somebody is very pi**ed off, which means we have been doing right thing.” On being asked if he can guess who’s been targeting him and his manager, Ngannou noted, “No. I don’t have any guesses. I have any proof.”
Watch Francis Ngannou’s conversation with Ariel Helwani in the video below:
Francis Ngannou is represented by CAA, a rival talent agency of current UFC owners WME/Endeavor
Ngannou is represented by Marquel Martin of CAA (Creative Artists Agency), while the UFC is owned by WME/Endeavor. These are two of the biggest talent management agencies in the world today.
In 2021, Helwani and former UFC fighter Kevin Lee shed light upon the rivalry between CAA and Endeavor as being the possible reason behind the UFC’s issues with Ngannou.
Francis Ngannou recently completed the last fight on his UFC contract. 'The Predator' defeated Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision at UFC 270 on January 22nd.
Ngannou is still the UFC heavyweight champion but has hinted at sitting out the rest of his UFC contract, with the contract set to expire in December 2022. Nevertheless, he’s clarified that he’ll re-sign with the UFC if they give him a pay raise. The champion also wants his new contract to allow him to compete in boxing as well.