Israel Adesanya shared his view on Francis Ngannou’s recent departure from the UFC and supported his friend, saying he made the right decision under the circumstances.
Speaking backstage during UFC 284, Adesanya fielded questions from the press, and was asked to share his opinion of Ngannou’s situation after the heavyweight champion walked away from the negotiating table, and the UFC, after the promotion wouldn’t accept his terms for a new deal.
“Francis made the right call,” Adesanya said
“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 about it, but he’s right. It’s little things.”
Ngannou revealed in interviews that some of his requests weren’t specific to himself personally. Instead, he asked for a number of changes to help his fellow fighters, especially those fighting further down the card on lower pay.
Adesanya said he supported Ngannou’s requests, and also stated that some of the things “The Predator” asked for should have already been a part of the system for fighters.
“He’s asking for things that should be mandatory,” he explained.
“He wasn’t asking for crazy, ridiculous diva-ish demands. There’s something as little as like, for the guys fighting on the opening (bouts), having the fourth or third cornerman being paid for, and their hotels being paid for.
“That sets them up nicely, and they don’t have to fork it out of their $10k and $10k, or maybe even $10k, to pay for their fourth or third cornerman. Little things like that.”
Adesanya is among the UFC’s top earners. He signed a new deal early in 2022. But he said the UFC’s approach to fighters and contracts needs to move with the times, with Ngannou’s situation a clear demonstration of why.
“He’s not being a diva,” Adesanya said of Ngannou.
“He’s asking for reasonable demands, and I felt like he should have got them. (Dana White) said, ‘That’s not how we do business.’ But the way we do business has to change, and it will change. (Ngannou) is just the guy to kick in the door.”
Despite Ngannou’s departure, Adesanya had words of encouragement for fans who will miss seeing him in action in the Octagon.
“I think he’ll come back,” Adesanya predicted.
“He’s the greatest heavyweight we’ve ever had – not even just like in the UFC, but in history. He left on his own terms with the belt, never lost it. Yeah, he is.
“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. He’ll be back. That’s what I’ll say.”
Adesanya also gave his take on who he’d like to see Ngannou face if he does make the switch to boxing. When asked to choose between Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua, Adesanya picked “The Gypsy King.”
“Ooh. I’d say Fury,” he said.
“They’ve already kinda had that back and forth. It’s already kind of built in there. And the fact that Fury’s ready to do it in smaller gloves. I’d say add kicks. He’s a gypsy. He takes chances.
“Everyone wants to say (let’s) bang, this and that, you know? Queensberry Rules. But yeah, add some kicks. If you’re going to take the (boxing) gloves away, no takedowns, just add some kicks. Let’s see who the real baddest man on the planet is.”