Home Promotion Francis Ngannou disrespected by his own promotion as UFC adds interim title fight – The Athletic

Francis Ngannou disrespected by his own promotion as UFC adds interim title fight – The Athletic


Francis Ngannou discovers the hard way that the UFC controls his destiny, and not the other way around. If they want him to fight, he better fight or repercussions will come to him. Never mind that he is arguably the scariest fighter in the history of the promotion. A man with bricks for his hands who completely destroyed GOAT heavyweight Stipe Miocic just three months ago.

No, the UFC needed a headliner for their August pay-per-view and Ngannou had to be that guy. For some reason, that date didn’t work out for him. A source close to Ngannou said Athleticism his team asked for September, but an extra month was apparently too much to ask. Now we get Derrick Lewis against Ciryl Gane for an interim title instead at UFC 265 in August.

Ultimately, the decision does not affect Ngannou’s status as a heavyweight champion. He was not stripped of his belt. If he was named the No.1 fight, I don’t think many would be so upset. But when the promotion gives another fighter in his division a chance to put gold around his waist, it’s a slap in the face to the true champion.

Let’s first see why provisional titles exist in the first place. The UFC brings them out when a champion hasn’t fought for a long time and the division is kept on top. Sometimes it’s an injury. Sometimes it’s a financial dispute. You don’t want the best candidates to sit around waiting for an opportunity. Ultimately, it makes sense when it really is.

It wasn’t here. Ngannou fought at the end of March after four consecutive knockouts in the first round. Many fighters go longer than that between fights and don’t mind the addition of a temporary belt. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, for example, has not competed since a split decision victory over Max Holloway in July 2020.

Take this division alone: ​​Miocic had the belt for a The whole year – August 2019 to August 2020 – between championship fights with Daniel Cormier. After winning the rematch, he then spent an additional eight months before fighting Ngannou. Miocic has therefore fought essentially three times in two full years. Why is he getting a pass?

“It’s a total shock,” Ngannou’s agent Marquel Martin told ESPN. “Making an interim title so early, if you look at the history of this division, it’s a surprise. We hope to get some clarification and find something with the UFC soon. “

The other major problem is the timing affecting Ngannou. A member of his team said Athleticism his plan was to fight in September, then again in December. Depending on how Lewis played against Gane, Ngannou’s return might not happen until winter. His hope will be that the winner comes out clean and doesn’t need a lot of time to recover. All because the UFC couldn’t wait another month.

Derrick Lewis has won his last four fights. (Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC)

Make no mistake, Lewis vs. Gane is a good fight. The contrasting styles should create an intriguing match. But it has to be said: this heavyweight title fight is the save for the save. The UFC had Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones on a silver platter, a fight that would make some crazy PPV numbers and be among the most high-profile fights of all time. Yet financial reasons forced this fight to end and now it is happening again. UFC 265 apparently didn’t have enough of a punch with Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena at the top of the list and needed an extra title for marketing reasons.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that the UFC has to occupy a spot on a calendar. UFC 265, I’m sure, will always perform well. Whether it was worth alienating one of the few potential superstars on your list is another question.

(Top photo: Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC)

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