Ngannou: UFC threatened to sue agent after alleged talks with Jake Paul's team
The UFC threatened to sue Francis Ngannou's manager just hours before the heavyweight champion defended his title at UFC 270 last weekend, Ngannou said Monday.
Ngannou said he was getting ready to leave his hotel and go to Anaheim's Honda Center, which hosted Ngannou's title fight with Ciryl Gane on Saturday, when he found out his manager, Marquel Martin, had received an email from the UFC.
The promotion alleged Martin had discussions with Nakisa Bidarian about Ngannou competing in boxing despite being under UFC contract, Ngannou said. Bidarian is Jake Paul's adviser, the co-founder of Paul's Most Valuable Promotions company, and the former UFC chief financial officer.
"I walked to the room, waiting for my manager and my coach, and they were like, 'Wow,'" Ngannou told Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour." "And I'm like, 'What's going on?' They told me that they just received an email from the UFC saying they were going to sue (Martin) for talking with this guy, Nakisa."
A source confirmed the contents and timing of the UFC's email with ESPN's Marc Raimondi, who adds Bidarian, Martin, and the UFC all declined to comment.
Ngannou said he doesn't know who Bidarian is and that he talks about boxing "all the time." The 35-year-old made it clear long ago that he hopes to box at some point in his career. Ngannou has recently gone back and forth with world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury on social media.
"It's not like I can't have a dialogue with people about boxing," Ngannou said.
"The Predator" defeated Gane by unanimous decision to retain the heavyweight belt for the first time.
Ngannou and his CAA management - a competitor of UFC's parent company, Endeavor - have been at odds with the UFC in recent months. The Cameroon native fought Gane on the last bout of his current UFC deal, but he remains under contract with the promotion because of a champion's clause.
Ngannou has said he believes his current deal expires in late 2022.