Last weekend in Saudi Arabia, Francis Ngannou went the distance with reining WBC champion Tyson Fury in his debut boxing match. While Ngannou (17-3 in MMA) would fall short on the scorecards, he shocked the world by the keeping the match much more competitive than many had imaged, and even knocked Fury down in the third round with a powerful left hook.
Earlier this year, Ngannou made the choice to cut ties with the UFC, and vacate his heavyweight championship status, due to an overall feeling of the UFC not recognizing his worth or allowing him the freedom to compete outside the organization. After a complicated series of contract negotiations, Ngannou walked away from the UFC, which ultimately paved the way to his most recent success inside the squared circle.
“The one thing that Khabib had over Dana, and Dana knew it, Dana’s smart. ‘This guy can’t be bought. He has his beliefs, and it doesn’t matter how many hundreds I throw down…this guy’s going to follow what he believes is right’. You have to respect it.”
-“Big” John McCarthy
In 2020, former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) walked away from active competition all together following one final victory over Justin Gaethje (25-4). The decision to retire came following the death of his father, and a promise he made to his mother, and there was no swaying him once his choice had been made.
While these two scenarios were vastly different in what caused both competitors to walk away from the company, the trait they have in common is that they strongly defended their decision, and there was no chance to sway either one.