DAN HARDY has sensationally claimed Dana White will do everything in his power to stop UFC fighters from following in Francis Ngannou’s footsteps.
The Predator left MMA’s top promotion in January following a prolonged contract stand-off, which was in part down to his desire to box.
Three months later, Ngannou inked a multi-fight deal with the Professional Fighters League – which permitted him to participate in a lucrative crossover clash with Tyson Fury last month.
Ngannou is now, arguably, the hottest fighter in all combat sports – a scenario Hardy believes White won’t allow to come to fruition for his current crop of combatants.
“I do feel like the UFC in particular like Dana’s a boxing fan.
“I think he was intrigued by that because he felt Conor was something quite special and he might be able to just do something as well as obviously they made a bunch of cash out of it.
“If you look at somebody like a Sean O’Malley or a Jon Jones, he doesn’t want to take that risk.”
Hardy – who was sacked from the UFC in March 2021 – believes White has been put off co-promotion ever since former light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell was stopped by Quinton Jackson in Pride over 20 years ago.
He said: “You remember when he took Chuck Liddell over to PRIDE and ‘Rampage’ [Quinton Jackson] beat him up, that kind of burned him, I feel.
“He’s been very, very reluctant to risk breaking his toys in other people’s promotions.
“I think he’s going to do everything he can to stop people from doing it.”
Ngannou’s decision to test free agency – which was questioned by many – ultimately bore fruit.
And Hardy wouldn’t be surprised if some other big names in the UFC decide to run down their contracts and test the free-agent water themselves.
He said: “I think now people are going to have the courage and confidence to see Ngannou go into free agency, recognize that maybe the grass is potentially greener elsewhere.
“The money is certainly greener elsewhere, I can tell you that.
“We’ll see a few more people working their way out of their contracts.”