Francis Ngannou is still baffled as to why Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane are fighting for the interim heavyweight title when ‘The Predator’ was crowned UFC heavyweight champion less than five months ago at UFC 260.
UFC president Dana White compared the situation to boxing, but Ngannou doesn’t like that explanation and feels he’s being disrespected as champion.
“When they fight Francis, it’s like the old days of the IBF vs. the WBC champion, and you unify the belts,” White, who has always been critical of the way boxing promoters handle world titles, told MMA Junkie earlier this week. “That’s exactly how I look at it.”
Dana White admits his relationship with @Francis_Ngannou has been shaky.— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) August 6, 2021
"I don't dislike Francis. ... We'll try to make him happy."@MMAJunkieJohn's interview: https://t.co/VTfnoicwmH pic.twitter.com/OTxPz4t8lX
“I heard something today (from Dana White) like, ‘It’s going to be like the IBF and WBC unified title.’ No, there’s not a unified title,” Ngannou, who knocked out Stipe Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title, told Sirius XM’s Jimmy Smith. “It’s one promotion, it’s one belt, the UFC belt. It’s not like it has a different name like the PFL coming to challenge the UFC, then we talk about unify the belt. I was there expecting to fight, and they just come up with some sort of interim title. That was very surprising because in the past we didn’t get an interim title, because Stipe wasn’t active and they didn’t even consider that at all. They didn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m at the point where, when it comes to me, nothing good is coming my way, it looks like. They aren’t making anything good to come my way. It’s OK, but I think at this point regarding my last run, I deserve at least some respect as a UFC champion. I’ve been down, I know my low time, and I face it.”
Ngannou claims he’s been given the silent treatment by the UFC ever since White got into a public spat with one of his agents and that he no longer knows where he stands with the promotion.
“Radio silence,” Ngannou said. “It’s been radio silence. Hopefully they will not come out and be like, ‘Oh, you’re fighting this day.’ Then I’m like, ‘It doesn’t make sense.’ Then they’re like, ‘Oh, he doesn’t want to fight.’ I won’t do that again, because apparently they are really good at this type of thing.”
Ngannou would still like to fight Jon Jones, but knows the odds of that fight happening are slim to none. In which case he’s willing to defend his title against the next best available contender.
“If you ask me who I would like to fight, I would say Jon Jones,” he said. “But we all know Jon Jones is not going to fight any time soon, and I don’t want to sit there waiting for him. That’s not what should define my schedule. I want to fight, and as a champion, I want to defend my title. But I just want to make it right for me. That’s all. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who it is. When you’re champion, you kind of just assume that you can fight all the contenders. It doesn’t matter the order of them. You’re going to fight them. If they’re a legit contender, you have to fight them. It’s not your choice.”
Lewis and Gane will square off for the interim heavyweight title in tonight’s UFC 265 main event at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.