Although Francis Ngannou is currently without a venue for his upcoming heavyweight bout with Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC on ESPN 8, ‘The Predator’ is happy that the UFC brass are doing everything in their power to push forward in the midst of a global health pandemic.
Speaking to MMA Fighting in a recent interview, the Cameroonian knockout artist praised the UFC for continuing to host events while several other major sporting leagues have put a halt to all upcoming shows due to coronavirus.
“It’s good that it gets moved rather than gets cancelled,” Ngannou said. “I’m pretty happy with that. I’m sure that I’m still going to fight. Yes, I’m very happy about that decision.”
“As a fighter, I also think about how we get prepared for the fight,” Ngannou explained. “I’ve been in training camp for like two months, let’s say they cancel the fight — when would it be [rescheduled]?
“I’m very happy to find a way to put [on] the fight, to still make us fight and I’m sure they are doing everything to keep us safe as well.”
Ngannou was originally set to meet Rozenstruik in the UFC Columbus main event but the UFC relocated to Las Vegas after the state of Ohio declared a ban on all large public gatherings. Now, though, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has issued a ban on all combat sports events in Las Vegas up to March 25 but it’s thought that NSAC will extend the ban for the foreseeable future, possibly leaving the UFC without a venue for the ESPN 8 card.
The UFC has yet to enforce any kind of testing for COVID-19 but Ngannou is confident the premiere MMA promotion will do everything they can to uphold fighter safety.
“I got a call from (UFC Chief Business Officer) Hunter Campbell yesterday and he was telling me the precautions,” Ngannou said. “Before that, I got an email from the UFC with all the precautions that we have to take to stay safe. I got a call from Hunter Campbell telling me if ever I feel like something is wrong, just call. Because they have a medical team set up for us. I don’t have to go to a random hospital out there or whatever.
“I mean in this case, you feel very safe and you know that they care about your health. As well as they’re going to be there. They’re not sending you somewhere. They’re going to be there, everything together to make sure everything is OK for your health. They’ll put everything together to keep you guys performing no matter what, which is in my opinion a good thing.”
If the fight with Rozenstruik does go ahead, Ngannou admits it will be strange to perform in an almost completely empty arena.
“It’s definitely going to be strange,” he said. “Because I am still thinking about it. Like OK, how is it going to look? At the end of the day, they might not have a crowd there but there’s going to be a lot of people watching that on TV.
“It’s probably the only sport going on for the next two weeks on the sports channels.”
UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik is scheduled to take place on March 28 at a venue TBA.