After Francis Ngannou’s lackluster decision loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 226, head president Dana White threw the heavyweight under the bus and claimed that the Cameroonian’s ego was ‘out of control.’
Shortly after White’s comments, coach Fernand Lopez of The MMA Factory backed White up and said Ngannou’s ego was a problem in training for the Stipe Miocic fight at UFC 220.
Coach John Wood, however, who has worked extensively with Ngannou at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas, can’t understand the criticism. According to Wood, ‘The Predator’ has always been a pleasure to work with.
“Francis is always a pleasure,” Wood told MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi in a recent interview. “Nicest guy, funny dude, always enjoyed having him around. Great to have him in the gym, always playing with the kids. Just a good dude, man. I never had any experience like that with him at all.”
Although Wood is confused about the criticism surrounding Ngannou’s alleged ego, the Syndicate MMA coach wasn’t surprised that White reacted the way he did after UFC 226.
“You can’t ever really be taken by surprise by what Dana says,” Wood continued. “It’s one of those things, you never know what Dana is gonna say. That’s his thing, to make headlines. He feels a certain way about certain things and he spoke about it. I don’t know what their personal interactions were or had been to that point, but Francis has always been a pleasure for me to be around and never been different toward me. But different people have different interactions. Sometimes people say things that they don’t exactly mean in the moment and they’re pissed off. Everybody was kind of pissed off after that fight. But yeah, nothing is ever shocking with Dana.”
Ngannou will return to Las Vegas to train with Wood in preparation for UFC Fight Night 141, where he will take on Curtis Blaydes in the main event. The 32-year-old has a TKO win over Blaydes from back in 2016 at UFC Fight Night 85.
Wood is excited to be working with Ngannou again and says the knockout artist will become ‘an unstoppable force’ with the right tweaks and adjustments in training .
“He’s still learning, he’s still growing,” Wood said. “And yes, he’s still green. That dude is a freak. It’s a freak how fast he learns, how strong. In another year or two, if he keeps moving the way he is, yeah he’s gonna be an unstoppable force. But some people take to it quicker. There’s just little pieces that need to click. But if he goes out there and starches Stipe with one punch, then … we’d be thinking he’s the best fighter there’s ever been, that kind of thing.”
UFC Fight Night: Ngannou vs. Blaydes takes place later this year, Nov. 25 at Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China.