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Francis Ngannou opens up on UFC's shortcomings

UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou believes the fast-growing promotion can do more for its fighters.

The UFC has arguably emerged as the leading MMA brand since WME-IMG took over in 2016. The promotion continues to hit good pay-per-view numbers and host sold-out events around the world, creating superstars of combat sports in the process.
However, Ngannou is adamant that while the promotion has gained more power and wealth, not enough of that success has been passed down to the fighters.
"I feel unprotected, which is exactly the situation that all fighters are in, too," the Cameroonian behemoth told MMA on Sirius XM radio.
"I would like the UFC to consider their position in a lot of things now regarding to fighters. Sponsorships, I think fighters should also have the right to put a sponsor on their shirt, not just for the company to make money out of it. Why not? They are not making money out of it.
"I understand that they want to make this uniform, they want to make the sport [look] clean, I understand that, or not [to] let any type of sponsor get into the octagon, or not [to] let any unappealing sponsor or brand get into the octagon, which I truly agree with that, but we should have some sort of way to check and approve certain sponsors so you can bring a sponsor inside [the UFC] and make money out of it.
"I'm sure over time, UFC fighters, we are losing a lot of power. The company is getting big, getting stronger, and we have no power."

But it's not just sponsorship issues. Ngannou alluded to the thorny issues of fighter pay and health insurance.

The heavyweight isn't the only fighter to bring this up of late, as former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold went on an expletive-laden rant about health insurance in the lead-up to UFC 278, afdter which he hung up his gloves.

"There's a lot of things that can be changed, who can be right," continued Ngannou.
"The fighter pay, that's a huge problem that everyone's aware of, and it seems like we keep rolling like nothing is going on. The health insurance, the same problem. I would like to see some of those solved.
"Let's make the sport the greatest sport. A lot of people fight for this sport in order for it to be what it is today, and I think for us, it's also our duty to do something to leave a better sport to the next generation."
However, Ngannou's words should be heard in the conext of his current postion within the UFC. The Predator hasn't fought since January due to injury, but that didn't stop UFC overlords from applying pressure by strapping an interim heavyweight belt around Cyril Gane in August.

Unperterbed, Ngannou is still using his champion status and starpower as leverage to negotiate a new contract - which runs out at the end of 2022 - with the promotion. While its comments like the above that stir the pot with his bosses, it reamins to be seen if Ngannou can be as effective in the boardroom as he is in the octagon.

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