Reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic isn’t one to complain or make a fuss, but the 35-year-old can’t help but notice the UFC’s favoritism for Francis Ngannou heading into their title bout at UFC 220 - and he feels disrespected by it.
“Obviously, for sure,” Miocic told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour when asked if he feels the UFC want Ngannou to win on Jan. 20 (h/t Dave Doyle of MMA Fighting). “Listen, I feel a little bit disrespected, but I’m not going to dwell on it.”
Ngannou, 31, wow’d fans with his sensational knockout of former K-1 champ Alistair Overeem last month, and the UFC didn’t hesitate to use it as the highlight clip for their UFC 220 video promo.
UFC president Dana White also hinted that Ngannou could be ‘the next big thing’ if he emerges victorious and captures the heavyweight title later this month.
Miocic isn’t one for trash talk, acknowledging Ngannou’s knockout power, but the part-time firefighter was quick to point out that he has also knocked out the likes of Overeem and Andrei Arlovski.
“He’s got more hype on him I guess,” Miocic said. “The guy hits super hard. We’re making a big thing about it. I’ve fought some good guys, you know? That’s how we are. I’m not much of a trash talker I just like to fight, that’s what I do.
“All the pressure is on him, honestly.… The best guys he’s faced, I knocked them out two years ago. So, whatever.”
Miocic, who will look to break the UFC heavyweight record for the most consecutive title defenses (2) against Ngannou, says ‘The Predator’ has the hype behind him but is looking forward to seeing how things play out on the night.
“He definitely has the hype behind him,” he said. “He definitely has the punching power behind him. So, we’ll see on January 20 how things go.”
UFC 220, which sees Miocic defend his heavyweight title against Ngannou in the main event, takes place later this month, January 20, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.