Francis Ngannou isn’t hurting for money after his Tyson Fury payday.
Ngannou staked his career on the gamble of all gambles earlier this year when he departed the UFC as its heavyweight champion in order to seek other opportunities. The risky move ultimately paid off — Ngannou not only landed a big-money boxing bout against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, but also nearly defeated boxing’s lineal heavyweight king in a shocking performance this past Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Ngannou is now one of the hottest names in all of combat sports, with a plethora of options at his disposal for his next move. Appearing Wednesday on The MMA Hour, Ngannou’s longtime representative Marquel Martin declined to give exact figures regarding how much the former UFC champ earned against Fury, but said that Ngannou’s professional boxing debut wound up being far more lucrative than anything the UFC presented their team.
“It’s up there. I would say up there. Multiples upon multiples upon multiples [more than the UFC],” Martin said on The MMA Hour. “I saw a statement, and let me make this clear — someone said, I forget who it was, that, ‘Oh, between the fights that he missed out on or whatever, he still fumbled the bag.’ You’re absolutely incorrect. I know what the pay-per-view numbers look like. I know what he would have gotten paid [in the UFC].
“Still, you add up all of that, whatever you want to say, no, Francis did not fumble the bag. He’s gotten, [with] just that one fight, more than everything he could have made [in the UFC] combined. And then the next fight? To answer your question, like I said, he’ll be able to retire. Like, he’s already at a point where he can retire and be happy.
“But looking back on it, it was the best decision that Francis could have made [to do what he did]. I mean, it was brilliant. It was brilliant on him. It was brilliant on the team to have that just even into consideration. Not many people would’ve advised Francis to take that route. Not many fighters would’ve taken that route. But all credit to Francis. Patience is a virtue that I’ve learned from him, and now he’s here.”
Ngannou, 37, now has the ball in his court regarding his next move. Saudi royal adviser Turki Alalshikh said Monday on The MMA Hour that he has already submitted a bid to retain the heavyweight for his next boxing match following the Fury loss. On that same episode, PFL founder Donn Davis proposed a mixed rules bout against Deontay Wilder under the PFL banner and Eddie Hearn publicly lobbied for a boxing match against Anthony Joshua.
Martin said Ngannou’s decision regarding his next fight is already “probably 90 percent made” and acknowledged that one of Fury, Wilder, and Joshua are involved. He added that Ngannou is “going to make that f*** you money” next regardless of which direction they go.
“Rightfully so, Francis controls his own destiny,” Martin said. “He gets to do whatever he wants. He has an amazing business partner in Turki and the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] behind him and supporting him 100 percent. So right now it’s just a function of him being back home with his family, relaxing, getting some much deserved [rest and relaxation], and then I’m sure there will be some announcements coming out soon. But my job in this whole thing for these past few years is just to try to do my best — and as a team, our best — to support him, to get him to where he wanted to be from day one. And I feel like he’s there.
“He’s done it all. He’s earned his right to say, ‘I want to fight this person on this date, and this is how.’ No one controls his destiny, right? So I’m just happy for him, man. Francis is his own boss, like he’s always been, and I’m just incredibly proud to just be a part of the ride, part of his family.”
It remains to be seen whether Ngannou’s success in the Fury saga inspires other fighters to take greater charge of their careers in an effort to replicate what the former UFC champ has been able to accomplish. On that front, as much as Martin hopes Ngannou’s positive result serves as a “case study” for more fighters and managers to follow, he remains doubtful that it becomes a blueprint other UFC athletes try to emulate moving forward.
“Other fighters? Yes. Other UFC fighters? Probably not,” Martin said. “Just because it’s just a different situation that they’re in. And I’ve always said this, and I’m not trying to discredit anyone, but at the same time it’s like, when you have not only fighters, but maybe their representation, that they’re not really trying to really lay it on the line for their client.
“I hope that more fighters take a lesson from Francis, in that, of course you don’t want to do it in a disrespectful manner, but a contract is a contract. Learn your contract. Have a team around you that supports you. Know what your value is and fight for that. And it’s crazy that fighters sometimes fight the least in terms of their rights — right? — where other athletes around the world do it all the time. So I hope that a lot of fighters will follow suit. Will it be UFC fighters anytime soon? No. I think it’s too jaded in a lot of ways, and I think there’s a lot of misrepresented athletes out there. There’s some good ones, don’t get me wrong.
“I just hope that changes in a way, and hopefully what we did, what we were able to accomplish as a team, as a group, serves as a case study for future athletes.”
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