Ben Rothwell: Francis Ngannou Should Head Fighter’s Organization, Calls UFC Profits Sickening

UFC veteran Ben Rothwell believes that Francis Ngannou, who stood up to the UFC and became a free agent, is the best person to lead a collective bargaining effort for fighters’ rights due to his credibility and willingness to bet on himself.

UFC veteran and BKFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell has a vision. He wants a seat at the table if fighters ever organize. He’s firm in his belief that the best person to lead any sort of collective bargaining effort is Francis Ngannou.

Rothwell admires Ngannou’s bravery. He recalls how Ngannou stood up against the giant, refusing to be their prisoner. Rothwell, who is set to face Todd Duffee at BKFC 56, told MMA Fighting about Ngannou’s courage. He mentioned how Ngannou risked everything, betting on himself despite the warnings.

Rothwell believes that it takes a man like Ngannou to unite everyone. Ngannou has proven that he is that man. When Ngannou became a free agent, Rothwell was among the many who wanted to fight “The Predator.” However, that opportunity likely vanished when Ngannou signed with the PFL and booked a boxing match with Tyson Fury.

Now, Rothwell sees Ngannou differently. He views him as someone who offers something unique when it comes to standing up for fighters’ rights. That unique thing is credibility.

Rothwell is straightforward about it. He said, “We only know what I’ll say – it doesn’t mean s***. Francis did it. Francis had it.” He admires how Ngannou, a former UFC champ, walked away, bet on himself, and hit a grand slam.

Ngannou had once asked the UFC for a fighter’s rep at the negotiating table. The UFC denied his request, along with others like health insurance. They even banned him when he declined their richest offer yet.

Rothwell has his own ideas about improving conditions for fighters. He’s holding off on specifics until he’s no longer an active fighter. But he’s certain about what doesn’t work in fight promotion, and that’s burning cash.

Rothwell was a breakout star in the IFL. The IFL went against industry norms by giving fighters a monthly cash stipend for living expenses. However, they ran out of revenue and had to shut down in less than three years.

Rothwell shared his thoughts on the matter. He said, “You got these young fighters that are putting on these great shows, providing all the content you need. But then you decide that you need Marco Ruas and Maurice Smith to fight in Chicago at $500,000 a piece – $1 million dollars.” He criticized this as a poor use of resources.

When Rothwell looks at the PFL, he doesn’t focus on their repeated fundraising efforts and expensive acquisitions like Ngannou. Instead, he sees the PFL’s “necessary” place in the MMA industry.

Rothwell disagreed with Matt Brown‘s comment that the UFC is like Kleenex – name recognition – and that PFL isn’t even in the equation. He said, “Respect, he’s a veteran, respect him as a fighter, but to make that comment is kind of silly to me.” He believes that if there is only the UFC, that would be the worst thing for fighters.

Upon signing with the PFL, Ngannou also took a role on the promotion’s “advisory board” to act in the role he proposed to the UFC. Another high-profile PFL signing, Jake Paul, also took a stake in the company in addition to a fight deal. Paul said he’s working on a project to organize fighters.

Rothwell believes time is of the essence. He said, “As long as there’s no Ali Act and there’s no fighter union of any sort, then we need as much competition as possible.” He warned that without these, the fighters will continue to be exploited, and the UFC’s valuation will keep rising.


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