It’s safe to say that Francis Ngannou has been dealing with a lot of things ahead of UFC 270. It’s not just the spotlight and immense pressure that comes with defending his UFC title for the first time, or preparing to face one of the most technical heavyweights today either.
Ngannou is going against a former training partner that’s very familiar with his game, and his former coach who has been seemingly trying to air their dirty laundry and question his character at every opportunity. To add to that, Ngannou and his management team have also been involved in this public and ugly contract impasse with the UFC. His contract status isn’t just muddy and uncertain at this point, what happens next likely also hinges on the result of this match up.
All that combined understandably makes an already high stress and high pressure situation even worse, but Daniel Cormier is now also spreading rumors that it’s actually taken a bigger toll on Ngannou.
“I gotta be honest man, I’ve heard whispers that all the things that Francis is dealing with, outside of the actual fight, may be taking its toll a little bit mentally,” Cormier said on his ESPN show, (transcribed by MMA Mania). “I’m not sure, but we will see.
“I know that Francis Ngannou is a man. He’s going to fight in any circumstance, he’s got the ultimate equalizer, but he’s got to be locked in if he is going to keep his championship on Saturday night.”
For what it’s worth, Ngannou also faced a lot of pressure ahead of his last title bout. He was facing Stipe Miocic, who’s considered an all-time heavyweight great, and a man who already badly beat him the first time around. The toxic drama with his former coach Fernand Lopez was already there as well.
As we all saw, Ngannou arguably put on the best performance of his career that night to capture the title.
Ciryl Gane is of course a unique challenge and a completely different test for Ngannou. In terms of just dealing with pressure packed situations though, this certainly isn’t something new for the heavyweight champion.