UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou was one of the hottest names in the sport entering 2018, but his stock has dropped substantially following consecutive defeats to then-champion Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis.
Against Lewis, pre-fight expectations were that one of Ngannou or Lewis was getting knocked out in an exchange of violent fisticuffs. Instead, Ngannou landed 11 strikes through 15 minutes, threw only 46, and dropped a dismal decision that was universally derided as one of the worst UFC heavyweight fights of all-time. White was critical of Ngannou, saying his ego had gone out of control leading up to the Miocic bout. Ngannou responded to those remarks in disagreement.
White has since doubled down on his claim of Ngannou’s behavioral changes during a recent appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
“Francis Ngannou at the time he was coming up, I believed this guy was going to be the guy, was going to be the heavyweight champion,” White said (via MMAjunkie). “He lost his mind. This guy completely lost his mind and started to act – I don’t know – in a way you just don’t act. I completely saw it coming. Obviously Francis Ngannou is a massive, strong, hard-hitting guy, and anything can happen when he gets in there, but Stipe had this thing where he feels completely disrespected. This guy’s always on fire and pissed off at the world and pissed off at us. I saw that coming. I knew he was going (to win).
“Francis Ngannou left the training center here (in Las Vegas) where he trained for previous fights, took off to France, was in France training or doing whatever he was doing leading up to the Stipe fight because he absolutely, positively knew he was going to be beat Stipe.”
White is also not sure if Ngannou will ever get “back on track,” and that he believes he needs to work on some things professionally and personally in order for that to happen.
Miocic won a one-sided decision against Ngannou, who tired quickly and struggled to stop Stipe’s takedowns. As for his loss vs. Lewis, Ngannou admitted that “fear” from the Miocic fight affected his performance in the UFC 226 co-main event. The Frenchman by way of Cameroon is looking to return to the Octagon soon, preferably against former champion Junior dos Santos.