Khamzat Chimaev is a rising star in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and he’s making the kind of money many other fighters would love to make. In his mind, that’s because he trusts in UFC to take care of him… and the promotion hasn’t disappointed him yet.
In a recent interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Chimaev criticized fighters who were complaining about fighter pay. He specifically singled out UFC Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, who is looking to leave the promotion in early 2023 when his contract expires.
“If Dana calls me, ‘Let’s do these things,’ I do it,” Chimaev said. “I appreciate it, what Dana and UFC did for me, you know? A lot of guys talking about ‘UFC don’t give us good money’ and those things. Go back, and where they’ve been, one, two, three years ago? They don’t remember that, you know? I was almost homeless, you know? Lots of guys as well.
“And big guy, what’s his name? [Francis] Ngannou,” he added. “He is talking about they don’t give him good money and all these things. And he was speaking about living outside before. Why don’t he do it right now? He has to appreciate everything that happened with him. He has to fight, fight, the money is coming.”
Ngannou made a lot of headlines when he revealed he made just $600,000 for his Heavyweight title defense against Cyril Gane, which was the last on his contract. That doesn’t tell the full story, though. UFC has been trying to re-sign Ngannou and pay him more for over two years, but “The Predator” refuses to sign a “lowball” contract that strips him of all power in his career. That means he’s been competing on a contract from Jan. 2018 with the same locked in pay for five years.
Ngannou probably could have negotiated a new contract that would be making him $2 to $4 million per fight as a champion. But, he’s decided to wait out the old one, which is about to sunset and make him a free agent. It’s expected that he’ll be able to make $10 to $30 million off boxing “super” fights … although few believe he’ll actually win against Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or any other prominent boxing Heavyweight.
Chimaev is in the honeymoon stage of his relationship with UFC and has thus far only enjoyed the positives of being one of the promotion’s big names. Ngannou has gone through a gauntlet of poor treatment familiar to many other UFC fighters. Examples: White calling Ngannou’s ego “out of control”, UFC benching “The Predator” and only fighting him once a year, creating an unnecessary interim title because Ngannou could not fight a month earlier than hoped.
As with Nate Diaz, UFC talks a big game about wanting to re-sign Ngannou, but its actual behavior towards him certainly doesn’t make re-signing an appealing choice. The Heavyweight has a long list of complaints and they’re all pretty valid. We’ll see what Khamzat Chimaev is saying once he’s spent seven years with UFC like Ngannou has.