Former MMA middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, has declared that the UFC must change its business practices after Francis Ngannou walked out of the promotion last month, reports mirror.co.uk.
The world heavyweight champion never lost his title and until Jon Jones faces Ciryl Gane for the belt next month in Las Vegas, he will hold the belt despite being a free agent. He is now one of the most in-demand fighters in boxing and MMA, with promoters clamouring to arrange a meeting and secure his services.
Ngannou hadn’t fought since January of last year due to injury when negotiations broke down between him and the UFC, meaning he was allowed to leave the promotion without losing his belt in an unprecedented move.
Adesanya, his close friend and one of the sport’s biggest stars, believes he has made the right moves at this point in his career.
“Francis made the right call,” Adesanya said during a media scrum at UFC 284 on Saturday. “He’s the one that kicked in the door. We’ve all been behind him. We’ve been saying this for how long? If you guys go back on the tapes, I’ve been saying the same thing. I’m not going to harp on it, but he’s right. It’s little things. He’s asking for things that should be mandatory.
“He wasn’t asking for, you know, crazy, ridiculous diva demands. There’s something as little as for the guys fighting on the opening fights, having the fourth or third corner man being paid for, and the hotel is being paid for. That sets them up nicely, and they don’t have to fork it out of their $10K to pay for their fourth or third corner man, little things like that.
“He’s not being a diva. He’s asking for reasonable demands, and I felt like he should have got them. (UFC bosses) told him, ‘that’s not how we do business’. But the way we do business has to change, and it will change. He’s just the guy to kick in the door.”
However, Adesanya believes that his friend will return to the UFC and declared that he was the greatest heavyweight in the history of the promotion.
Ngannou is keen to make his boxing debut and has listed Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury among the opponents he is looking to fight as he makes the transition.
“I think he’ll come back,” Adesanya added on the Camerounian. “He’s the greatest heavyweight we’ve ever had, not even like in the UFC, but in history. He left on his own terms with the belt, never lost it. So I feel he’s going to do what he has to do in boxing or wherever else, but it’s a great hit to the company. I know he’ll be back, though. He’ll be back. That’s what I’ll say.”