Welcome to Midnight Mania!
I feel like Brad Pitt at the end of Seven, except I’m standing in the oilfield repeatedly yelling, “Who fumbled the bag?!?”
In the immediate aftermath of the Francis Ngannou vs. Tyson Fury super fight (watch highlights), the general consensus online was that UFC CEO Dana White made a mistake by not re-signing Francis Ngannou and allowing him to compete in boxing. Ngannou just made a huge amount of money on the Fury fight, and his excellent performance pretty much guaranteed him further massive boxing fights against the likes of Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder.
Those events are going to produce a lot of pay-per-view (PPV) buys that UFC won’t see a cent off. As for MMA, imagine if Ngannou vs. Jon Jones were booked right now, a title unifier? I would hazard a guess it sells more than the legacy fight between Jones and Stipe Miocic, which is about five years too late for most people’s taste.
UFC will do just fine without “The Predator,” but that feels like a lot of money left on the table.
Former top contender and current analyst, Chael Sonnen, doesn’t exactly agree. Sonnen was complementary towards Ngannou and his performance, even believing he deserved the nod, but Sonnen would like to clear up certain aspects of the narrative.
“Francis Ngannou, the expectation and the story going in, this was all about a moral victory, right?” Sonnen began while talking with MMA Junkie. “He outsmarted the UFC, and he got a few bucks, and if you can’t do math, you’ll think financially he’ll do better than he did if he did his fights in MMA, which is simply not true. But it’s the way the story is being told, so I’ll play along. But you thought, ‘Every second Francis makes it in is a win.’ If he goes to a minute, it’s a win. If he can get through a round, it’s a win. We all know this is based around a moral victory and absolutely nothing else, so when Francis comes out and he’s not looking to kill time, and he’s not looking to clinch him up, he’s not looking to stay away from him. They ring the bell and Fury is the first to go, ‘Woah.’ Fury was the one that let me know this is not what we expected.”
Specifically, Sonnen takes issue with the idea that Ngannou has made more by leaving UFC than if he had stayed. Sonnen points out that Ngannou waited a long time on the sidelines for his contract to expire (though a torn knee played a part as well), and he also passed up a massive payday to face Jon Jones in the Octagon. Sonnen also questions Ngannou’s ability to find a worthy dance partner in the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) smart cage, where Ngannou expects to debut early in 2024.
“I want to praise Francis today, but I do want the story told correctly,” Sonnen said. “I think that he beat Fury. I think he exceeded expectations. I think that he deserves a lot of credit. But I’ve already seen the story mistold, that he played this one and didn’t fumble the bag. Well if the bag is a bag full of money, yes he did. He absolutely did. To make believe that $10 million is somehow significantly more than he would’ve got on his pay-per-view participation alone against Jon Jones is incorrect. Not to mention the two years that he sat equals six fights. Let’s bring it back and call it five. And making it really easy, let’s call it four fights. His four fights would’ve equaled $10 million had he promoted them. You’ve got to really understand this.
“It’s not the way the people keep saying it is. I don’t know what he’s got in MMA. I don’t know who is out there for him (in PFL). I know the two leading opponents for him are Junior Dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum. I don’t give those guys a hard time; they’re studs. But no one is clamoring to see that fight. Meanwhile if I told you Francis is going to return to boxing, he’s going to take on Deontay Wilder, you will stop what you’re doing and mark down your calendar. So let’s see where he goes. I do want to praise him, but I praise him in the spirit of let’s tell the story accurately in the way that it happened.”
Prior to the Fury fight, Ngannou estimated that leaving the UFC cost him $7 million in potential earnings, so there’s some definite truth to Sonnen’s narrative. However, it does neglect to mention that Ngannou is now free to pursue his own sponsorships, a huge source of potential income that UFC was policing.
Furthermore, Ngannou’s earning potential has never been higher. His performance against Fury changed his life, practically guaranteeing at least one more massive boxing payday on top of his guaranteed PFL purse. Even if his free agency hasn’t yet paid off based on Sonnen’s numbers, Ngannou is just a fight or two away from shattering those estimates.
MMA Twitter has been having fun with the new Vince McMahon meme format. Here’s a few of my favorites:
“This kid from Russia, he was called Piotr Yan. Always angry but it was charming. You should have seen his boxing. He was on his way to be p4p #1 until he knee’d this Jamaican Emmy nominated Oscar winner, he never recovered after that and even lost to a Georgian Goblin on EPO.” pic.twitter.com/MscDEJSbbQ
— AWUREDO (@AOUREDOO) October 27, 2023
A rumored update to the PFL buying Bellator situation …
PFL owns Bellator, now, I’m told. They’re taking over from 2024.
As I’ve already reported, the plan is to run the Bellator brand for the next two years.
— Al Zullino (@phre) October 30, 2023
0-3 in the UFC isn’t likely to cut it, regardless of any other circumstances.
❌ Fighter removed: Blood Diamond
— UFC Roster Tracker (@RosterTracker) October 31, 2023
Ngannou is understandably a bit upset about that Fury elbow. “The Gypsy King” had a few MMA moments between his clinching and double leg attempt!
Michael Bisping is consistently getting punk’d on his own podcast.
I always liked Tarec Saffiedine’s fights, he had some slick technical skill.
This is an interesting list for any number of reasons but like … poor Dominick Reyes.
There’s 10 fighter’s ranked in the UFC that haven’t won a bout in 950+ days.
With Jon Jones latest setback driving Stipe Miocic’s next bout into late 2024, Should the UFC implement concrete criteria into their ranking process? pic.twitter.com/AdjBbtUFxn
— Andy Hickey MMA (@AndyHickeyMMA) October 27, 2023
Slips, rips, and KO clips
This tweet is how I learned UFC is burying Rinat Fakhretdinov on the “Prelims” of a ho-hum card this weekend. That guy is Top 15! Promote him!
One left hook answered by a better one.
Belly down back mount is not the place to hang out.
Double check your Google results.
Midnight Music: Reader request!
Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.