- Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou was stripped of the title and released from the UFC
- The Predator defended his belt just once before needing to undergo surgery on an injured knee
- UFC chief Dana White stated that the organisation and Ngannou could not reach an agreement
Cameroon fighter, Francis Ngannou has officially vacated his UFC heavyweight title after becoming a free agent.
The 36-year-old has not fought in the Octagon since he defended the title against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January 2022.
Ngannou underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he sustained during the fight, and was negotiating with the UFC during that time over a new contract.
The Predator often updated fans on the progress of negotiations and was looking forward to fighting in 2023, with a bout against the returning Jon Jones the most likely prospect.
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Why Ngannou left the UFC
UFC president, Dana White has said that his side failed to negotiate for a contract extension, because Ngannou was trying to make more money for facing lesser competition, per Sky Sports.
Negotiations between the two reportedly hit an impasse, with the Cameroonian stating he would not 'fight for $500,000 any longer'.
"I've told you guys this before - if you don't want to be here, you don't have to be," White said, via ESPN MMA. "I think Francis is in a place right now where he doesn't want to take a lot of risk. We're going to let him do that, release him from his contract and give up our right to match."
Ngannou's impressive UFC record
Ngannou was also Africa's last reigning champion.
Nigerian duo, Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya both lost their titles in 2022, with the Cameroon fighter still carrying the flag of the continent high.
The rise of Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou is one of the most popular and feared fighters in the world, but the former UFC heavyweight title holder didn't have an easy road to get to where he is.
Nicknamed 'The Predator', Ngannou was born in Batié, Cameroon and grew up in poverty with no formal education, Sports Brief previously reported.
As he recalled in an interview with Joe Rogan, he had to search for food in bins as a youngster, often 'fighting' with rats for the scraps.
UFC vacates heavyweight title
Jon 'Bones' Jones will make his long-awaited return to the UFC in March, Sports Brief has reported.
Bones will compete at UFC 285, where he will fight for the heavyweight title vacated by Ngannou earlier this month.
The 35-year-old former light heavyweight champion last fought in December 2020, in a title defence against Dominik Reyes.
Source: Sports Brief News