Morning Report: Eric Nicksick says Francis Ngannou ‘changed my life’ with coach payment from Tyson Fury match

Francis Ngannou arguably made the biggest impact in combat sports in 2023.

To kick off his yearly campaign, the 37-year-old Ngannou made the bold decision to bet on himself and leave behind the UFC, where he made his name and ultimately became the heavyweight champion. Unable to negotiate a new deal that allowed him the freedom to pursue other ventures — like boxing — “The Predator” parted ways with the promotion and signed with the PFL as not only a fighter but an “owner and chairman,” overseeing PFL’s new Africa league.

Ngannou has yet to make his return to MMA since his January 2022 unanimous decision win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. He has, however, made his dream of competing as a professional boxer a reality when he took on the worldwide best Tyson Fury in October. Despite coming up short via split decision, Ngannou was the clear winner in the grand scheme as he performed much better than anyone expected him to. Additionally, the amount of money he made is more than his entire UFC career combined, according to Ngannou. The Cameroon native didn’t get to this point by himself though, and his longtime head coach at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas Eric Nicksick is also enjoying the fruits of their collaborative labor.

“It was the most money I’ve ever been paid by a fighter — it was unbelievable,” Nicksick told MMA Junkie of his coach payment from Ngannou. “It was more than I expected. Obviously, Francis has always taken great care of me, but it floored me. When I saw my Wells Fargo account that morning, it literally brought me to tears. That’s a true story. Literally brought me to tears because he changed my life — not only from a professional standpoint but a monetary standpoint.

“It allowed me a lot of financial freedom to allow me to be able to enjoy my coaching, enjoy being a dad and a husband and I get to take my kids to Park City this weekend, my daughter’s 16th birthday. Helped us buy a new car. There’s a lot of things with Francis moving over to boxing, and the way he takes care of his team. He loves every single one of us and he shows it. He takes care of us, and I couldn’t thank him enough.”

Nicksick’s 2023 outside of Ngannou was a big success overall as he continued building champions. The most notable of the bunch undeniably being the surprise UFC titleholder of the year Sean Strickland, who won middleweight gold with a clean unanimous decision over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in September.

Ngannou’s rise to the UFC title saw Nicksick by his side throughout his biggest title efforts, which came with the title win in his rematch against Stipe Miocic in March 2021 before the aforementioned Gane defense. What caught Nicksick the most off-guard about his training for the Fury match was that he wasn’t nearly as involved as the previous two MMA tilts.

“Remember, as his head coach, the two title fights with Stipe and Gane, he paid me more for the Tyson Fury fight as basically his assistant behind Dewey,” Nicksick said. “I was behind Dewey and I got paid way more than I did in the Gane and Stipe fights and he was taking care of me on that, as well, percentage-wise. If he wants to box, man, I’m all for it. All day long, brother.

“I think it does show that you’re able to go outside the UFC and still be successful. It’s hard to put an evaluation when you talk about Francis and his star power and what he’s capable of doing. Can Jeremy Kennedy do that same thing? I don’t know. There’s just guys I don’t know if that’s going to work out in their favor the same way it did for Francis. But it also gives guys more options, and I think more options are important to have.”

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Next. Leon Edwards plans to defend title at UFC 300, also ‘in talks’ to fight in Birmingham

Prediction. Dan Hooker doubts Islam Makhachev rematches Arman Tsarukyan: ‘I guarantee he’ll retire by the time Arman gets there

Recap. RIZIN 45 results, videos: Kyoji Horiguchi taps Makoto Shinryu, Kai Asakura folds Juan Archuleta to win title

Scores. MMA Fighting’s 2023 Robbery Review Rundown: What was the biggest robbery of the year?

Story. RIZIN’s Igor Tanabe changed focus from BJJ to MMA because of mid-pandemic fatherhood

Memories.A product that’s nothing like the UFC’: Ex-PRIDE exec Nobuyuki Sakakibara ranks top 3 favorite NYE moments

The best of MMA Fighting’s Watch Party in 2023.

THUG Rose – Full documentary.

2023 Debut and Comeback nominees.

Year of the Fighter collection.

PFL Tops.

A … Wonderful … Breakdown.

DAMN! They Were Good. MMA Fighting reflects on “right leg hospital, left leg cemetery” — the legend of Mirko Cro Cop.

Slo’d ‘em.


Birthday boy.

Embracing the hate.


RIZIN 45 madness.

There we have it?


An understanding.

Yoshinori Horie (13-4) vs. Luiz Gustavo (13-2); RIZIN Landmark 8, Feb. 24

Vugar Karamov (19-5) vs. Kazumasa Majima (16-4); RIZIN Landmark 8, Feb. 24

Rena Kubota (13-5) vs. Yu Ri Shim (6-3); RIZIN 46, March 23

Koji Takeda (15-6) vs. Kyohei Hagiwara (7-8); RIZIN 46, March 23

Naoki Inoue (16-4) vs. Shoko Sato (35-15-2); RIZIN 46, March 23

Chihiro Suzuki (12-3) vs. Masanori Kanehara (31-14-5); RIZIN 47, May 6

You always love to hear these types of stories. Especially for a guy like Nicksick, who certainly deserves his riches as well.

Happy 2024, peeps. I hope you all put a nice and neat little bow on the 2023 behind us. It was quite a year, to say the least. Onward! Thanks for reading!

Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 78% of 600 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Is Colby Covington vs. Ian Machado Garry the fight to make if Garry gets past Geoff Neal at UFC 298?

Thursday: 87% of 911 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Do you have any interest in Tyron Woodley vs. either Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz?

Wednesday: 67% of 454 total votes answered “Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler” when asked, “Which fight would you rather see at this point?

Tuesday: 61% of 413 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Will Belal Muhammad get the next UFC welterweight title shot?

Monday: 57% of 437 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Will Tony Ferguson ever fight in the UFC again?

Today’s exit poll:


Will 2024 be a better year for combat sports than 2023?

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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