Francis Ngannou Discusses Feeling Disrespected by UFC After Winning Heavyweight Title

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVAugust 19, 2021

Cameroon's Francis Ngannou, world champion of heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA), poses for a portrait in Bafoussam, Cameroon, on May 1, 2021. - Francis Ngannou, world champion of heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA), made a triumphant return to his native village of Batié, in western Cameroon, on May 1, 2021.
Nicknamed "The Predator", he defeated American titleholder Stipe Miocic by knockout on March 28, becoming the first African to win the world title in the most prestigious league, the American Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). (Photo by Daniel Beloumou Olomo / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO/AFP via Getty Images)

Francis Ngannou reached the pinnacle of UFC's heavyweight division, but he still doesn't feel he gets the respect he deserves from the promotion.

"Yes. I have that feeling,"  Ngannou told Tyler R. Tynes of GQ when asked if he feels disrespected by UFC. "Just recently they gave me the UFC heavyweight champion, and months later they’re talking about someone else being the champion. Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m really the champ or not. It’s really confusing."

Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic in March to earn the heavyweight championship, completing a journey that began a little more than three years prior with a loss to Miocic. 

UFC and Ngannou then entered talks regarding his first title defense that quickly went haywire. Dana White wanted Ngannou in the Octagon for UFC 265, and the titleholder requested more time. After refusing a counterproposal from Ngannou to fight in September,  White abruptly changed course and created a fight between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis for an interim heavyweight championship.

Gane won the fight and is currently considered the UFC heavyweight champion. 

The move was almost unprecedented, given there were less than five months of turnaround time between Ngannou winning the title and UFC 265. 

In a promotional video for the pay-per-view, White appeared to call Ngannou out, saying, “If you don’t wanna fight, no problem. You can wait and fly around the world on vacation, whatever you’re doing, knock yourself out. Whenever you’re ready we’re here."

Ngannou fired back at UFC, saying the promotion was trying to devalue his status. 

"There’s one thing: if you say you understand the UFC, and how they do business, that means you don’t understand s--t,"  Ngannou said. "It’s just like that: it can be very spontaneous, premature, and decisions are out of nowhere. They just pop up like that: boom! But at the end of the day, things will get done. It’s just a matter of time."

Ngannou's next fight will almost certainly be with Gane, who he previously trained with in 2019.